Barbeque Portobello Quesadillas


I’ve been thinking about Portobello mushrooms lately so I researched and printed out several recipes.  I settled on making this one first and I am glad I did.  Add it to the list of easy weeknight suppers because that is exactly what it is!  The chunks of Portobello mushroom are delicious and in my book anything in barbeque sauce is a winner!

I served these babies with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a side of cumin roasted green beans.

Some notes:

  1. For best texture and flavor, I suggest buying a block of cheese and grating it as opposed to using pre-grated cheese.  The melting factor will be much better and there is a distinguishable freshness that pre-grated cheese lacks.  (Feel free to use low-fat cheese if you prefer.)
  2. Dice or cube the mushroom to whatever size you prefer.  I opted for chunkier cubes rather than a small dice.  Whatever you choose, make sure all pieces are consistent in size.
  3. The original recipe suggests removing the gills from the mushroom caps.  I don’t think that is necessary.  Unless you have an aversion to the texture of the gills, there is no reason to remove them.
  4. I didn’t have any fresh herbs on hand but I think a few pinches of cilantro or chives would jazz this up and boost the freshness factor.

Barbeque Portobello Quesadillas:

  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (My favorite is Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ–I could drink it!)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon diced chilies
  • 1 pound Portobello mushrooms, diced or roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4-5   8inch whole wheat tortillas
  • 3/4 Colby jack cheese, freshly shredded
  • olive oil and or non-stick spray

Combine the barbeque sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, and chilies in a medium bowl.

Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the mushroom and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 more minutes. 

Transfer vegetables to the bowl with the barbeque sauce and mix. 

Place tortillas on your work surface and grate 3 tablespoons of cheese onto half of each tortilla. Top with about 1/2 cup of mushroom filling.  Fold tortilla in half and gently press to flatten.

Wipe out skillet.  Spray with cooking spray and warm pan over medium heat.  Add quesadilla to pan and cook, turning once, until both sides are golden.  Transfer to a cutting board to slice into triangles and serve immediately.

Adapted from recipe found here at


Mini Strawberry Cupcakes


Why is that all things mini are just so cute?  Baby shoes, teacup dogs, doll house furniture, cocktail weiners, tartlets…things that are shrunken down are just so appealing that we can’t help but use words like adorable to describe them! 

The same goes for these tiny cupcakes—they are just so cute and poppable.  You can toss one in your mouth without the investment that a typical cupcake requires.  Unlike normal-sized cupcakes, there is no need to maneuver the perfect chomp of cake and frosting while trying to balance the cake in your hand, not bite the paper, and avoid dipping your nose in the frosting. 

With mini cupcakes, you can get all of the frosting and all of the cake all in one bite!  Plus, did I mention they are just so cute! 

The little bites of strawberry make these cupcakes especially delicious.  Just be sure to dice the fruit small enough so that every cupcake gets plenty of delicious fruity goodness! 

Mini Strawberry Cupcakes:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups fresh strawberries, sliced then diced into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Insert mini-cupcake papers into a mini-cupcake pan. 

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. 

In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Beat well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk.  Mix for 3 minutes.  Use a rubber spatula to fold in the vanilla and the strawberries.  Be sure the strawberry pieces are distributed throughout all of the batter or else some mini-cupcakes won’t have any fruit! 

Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full if you like the little “muffin-top” to bake above the cupcake liner or about 1/2 way if you prefer the cake to bake even with the liner.  (Funny–this is the only situation I can think of where “muffin-top” is a good thing!)

Bake for about 15-20 minutes.  (These little guys are small so they bake quicker than you may think.)  A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the middle.

Cool and frost with the vanilla frosting recipe of your choice.

Adapted from Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella.  You can (and should!) buy it here.

Orange Coconut Cake


My mom doesn’t really love desserts.  Only three things come to mind when I think of sweets that she enjoys: rocky road clusters, Mallow Cups (chocolate cups filled with coconut and marshmallow), and anything citrus, particularly those gummy fruit slices.  For her birthday, I wanted to make a cake that reflected at least one of her favorite sweet treats.  She is a huge Paula Deen fan, so when I found this coconut cake, I just knew she would love it!  Rather than keep it straight up coconut, I added some orange zest for a refreshing blast of citrus.  The flavors were fantastic and the texture was similar to pound cake.  Unlike Paula’s recipe which is three layers, I only made this a two layer cake, but I think three thin layers would be great.  The filling is especially delicious and moistens the cake to perfection.  My mom (and everyone else) really enjoyed this cake!

Orange Coconut Cake:


  • cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups sifted self-rising flour
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • the zest of two oranges (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Filling

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup flaked, sweetened coconut
  • Topping

  • the vanilla frosting recipe of your choice
  • Flaked, sweetened coconut 
  • 1 can mandarin orange segments
  • Make Cake:

    Preheat oven to 350 F.

    Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and orange zest and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.  (While cake is baking, prepare filling.) Cool in pans 5 to 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks.

    Make Filling:

    Stir together sugar, sour cream, milk, and coconut in a bowl until well blended. Remove cake layers from oven and allow cake to remain in pans as you prepare to stack and fill. Remove first layer and invert onto cake plate. Using the wrong end of a wooden spoon, poke holes approximately 1-inch apart until entire cake has been poked. Spread 1/3 of filling mixture on cake layer. Top with second layer.

     Frost top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top and sides of cakes with additional coconut.  Decorate with mandarin orange segments.

    Adapted from Paula Deen’s “Jamie’s Coconut Cake” Recipe found here on

    Smothered Steak Sandwiches


    If you read this blog regularly you know I love sandwiches.  There is something so satisfying about biting into a crusty piece of bread overflowing with meat and veggies.  These steak sandwiches were so delicious and easy to make.  And to top it off, for such a filling meal there are only 330 calories per serving (according to the magazine in which I found the recipe).  

    That’s 330 calories of colorful nutrient packed peppers, lean juicy protein, and crusty bread perfection! 

    Smothered Steak Sandwiches

    • 3 bell peppers (colors of your choice, I used 1 orange, 1 yellow, 1 red), sliced
    • 1 medium onion, sliced into circles
    • 1  14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
    • 1 pound lean steak (cuts such as flank or swiss work well and are reasonably priced)
    • 1 whole wheat whole grain baguette, sliced in half

    Spray a skillet with cooking spray. Place peppers in skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender.  Add onions and cook until all vegetables are tender and slightly brown, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cook until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.

    Meanwhile, spray a grill pan with cooking spray and set to medium/high heat.   Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper.  Place steak on grill pan and cook until desired doneness (turning once).  Remove from pan, place on cutting board and slice into thin strips (cutting against the grain).

    Place sliced steak on top of baguette and top with pepper and onion mixture.  Serve immediately.

    Adapted from recipe found in Clean Eating magazine March/April issue.


    Fish Stew


    “I would even bring this in for lunch tomorrow.” 

    There it is, folks, in the words of my husband who 98% of the time prefers a plain old deli sandwich to leftovers for lunch.  That’s how much he (we) enjoyed this!

    This stew has just about all of the positive qualities you would seek in a weeknight supper. 

    1. Really  easy
    2. Really quick (easy doesn’t always = quick)
    3. Really healthy
    4. Really low in calories (healthy doesn’t always = low cal)
    5. Really fresh
    6. Really delicious

    (Wow–that is a lot of reallys. )

    Also, I think what we really (uh-oh, there is another one) liked about this dish is that it strays from how we typically eat fish.  In the spirit of Lent I have had my eye out for some good fish recipes, and since we eat a fair amount of baked fish I wanted to try something a little different.  This recipe hit the mark.  It is flavorful, light, and has a pleasantly surprising kick to it. 

    A couple of recipe notes: In our freezer I had some corn shaved from the cob that had  just been waiting for a purpose.  What a special touch of flavor and freshness it added to this meal!  If you happen to have some fresh corn (or other veggies for that matter–mushrooms or peas would work well) toss them in!  Secondly, I replaced the water (originally called for in the recipe) with chicken broth.  Though it adds a few more calories and a tad of sodium, in my opinion the flavor boost is definitely worth it.

    I served this with grilled slices of bread for dipping.  Really YUM.

    Fish Stew:

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 large leek (or 2 celery stalks), chopped
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1.5 cups corn
    • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
    • 1  14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, not drained
    • 2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
    • 1 pound white fish of your choice, cut into chunks (I used dover sole–any white fish would work well)
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
    • cayenne pepper and kosher salt, to taste

    Heat the oil in a dutch oven (I used my Le Creuset) over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft.  Add leek (or celery) and chili powder.  Cook until tender.

    Stir in the worcestershire sauce, diced tomatoes (with juice), 2 cups of broth and cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the corn and fish.  Cook for 3 minutes or until the fish is done.

    Season with salt and cayenne until you’ve reached your desired flavor.  Stir in parsley.

    Adapted from Easy Fish Stew from Cooking Light found here on Recipezaar.

    Beef Bourguignon


     Yum, yum, and yum!  This dish is delicious!  The flavor is so much deeper and complex than I anticipated, and while this did take some time to make, it was absolutely worth it!  The applewood smoked bacon really set the tone.  What a perfect warm and cozy dish for a snowstorm.  How convenient—Boston is being obliterated with the powdery white stuff as we speak!  Light the fireplace, grab your sweetheart and a bottle of red wine, curl up and dig in! 

    Beef Bourguignon:

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 8 ounces applewood smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck beef or stew meat, cubed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound frozen whole onions
  • 1-2  pounds fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • Preheat the oven to 250  F.

    Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  (I used my Le Creuset.) Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

    Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 -5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

    Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer.  Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork. *

    Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

    *Note: The Le Creuset user guide indicates that the knob on the lid can withstand temperatures up to 190 F.  The oven temp here is 250 F, therefore, I unscrewed the knob from the lid and removed it.  Because that left a hole,  I covered the pan with parchment paper then foil before placing the lid back on.  This created a seal preventing heat from escaping the pan.

    Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe found here on