Braised Brisket with Mushrooms

To say my friend Bonnie’s husband Paul loves meat is an understatement.  His philosophy is that no meal is complete without a lot of meat, so I’m guessing they don’t do “Meatless Mondays” in their house.

I just had lunch with Bonnie, and of course, the conversation eventually turned to food.  We talked about how our Pinterest pages are mostly consumed with recipes, and she had the same problem I now have — making something from Pinterest, loving it, and then not being able to find the recipe.  So, she gave me a great tip on how to better organize all my ‘already made’ recipes.

She mentioned that she liked following my blog (Which I consider a huge compliment.  After all, I thought only my mom read this thing.), but she did remind me that she doesn’t bake much — that’s because both her sister and her friend Anita keep her well supplied with desserts, but she loves to cook and experiment.  And then there’s Paul with his love of meat.  I told her about this brisket recipe, and she requested that I share it soon.  So, this one’s for Bonnie:


Braised Brisket with Mushrooms

Braised Brisket with Mushrooms from Mel’s Kitchen

  • 2-3 pounds brisket roast, fat trimmed to 1/4-inch
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T. packed brown sugar
  • 3 T. AP flour
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 t. balsamic vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Pat the brisket dry with paper towels and cut it in half crosswise into two roasts. Season each roast with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium or medium-high heat until rippling and hot. Brown the brisket on both sides, working with one roast at a time, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.  Repeat with the second roast.
  3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pan. Add the mushrooms and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook over medium heat until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add the onions and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add the flour, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the broths and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 6-7 minutes.
  4. Place the brisket back in the pan and place the lid on top.  Bake the roasts in the preheated oven until very tender, 4 1/2 to 5 hours. Remove the dish from the oven and let it cool, covered, for 30 minutes to 1 hour, flipping the roasts and recovering the dish halfway through cooling.
  5. Transfer the roasts to a cutting board and trim any extra fat off, if the roasts are excessively fatty. Strain the sauce from the pan through a fine mesh strainer into a fat separator; reserving the mushrooms. Let the liquid settle and then pour into a microwave-safe bowl, leaving the fat behind. Stir in the vinegar and microwave the sauce for about a minute. If the sauce is too thick, thin with chicken or beef broth. Slice or shred the brisket roasts and place on a serving platter with the reserved mushrooms. Pour the warmed sauce over the meat. Serve immediately.

Ina Garten’s Oven-Roasted Vegetables

  • 2 small fennel bulbs, tops removed
  • 1 lb small potato
  • 13 cup olive oil
  • 2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 lb French string beans
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, ends removed, cut diagonally into 3-inch pieces
  • 14 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the fennel bulbs into 6 wedges each, cutting through the core to keep the wedges intact. Place on a sheet pan. Cut the potatoes in half length-wise and place them on the pan with the fennel. Drizzle the olive oil on the vegetables, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss with your hands.
  3. Roast the vegetables for 25 – 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, tossing once while cooking. Toss the string beans and asparagus with the roasted vegetables and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and roast for another minute or two until the cheese melts.

Paula Deen’s Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

  • 1 1/4 cups Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. dried parsley flakes


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the biscuit mix and cheese in a small bowl. Add the water and stir just until combined. The dough will be slightly moist. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the biscuits are firm and beginning to brown.
  3. While the biscuits are baking, make the garlic butter. In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic powder, salt, and parsley flakes. Mix well. As soon as you bring the biscuits from the oven, brush them with the garlic butter using a pastry brush.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Sometimes I get on a kick, and I make something over and over — to the point where I make my family sick of it.  That’s where this recipe comes in .  I used to make cinnamon raisin bread quite regularly, so regularly that at some point Matt gave me the “I’m sick of eating this talk”.  I stopped making it.  A few weekends ago, when I was digging through some old paper recipes that still hadn’t made it to the iPad, I ran across the cinnamon raisin bread recipe.  I took it as a sign.

The recipe is by Ellie Krieger and was posted in an issue of The Food Network Magazine.  Ellie Krieger is known for healthy cooking and eating, so I was thrilled when I found the recipe. I figured if she was sharing it, I’d go ahead and consider it health food.  The first time I made it, Matt informed me that the cinnamon sugar swirl wasn’t nearly as substantial as it ought to be.  So I will admit that while I follow the bread portion of the recipe exactly, I might add more brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins than what Ellie suggests.  Here’s my adventure in picture form.

cinnamon raisin 1

cinnamon raisin 2

cinnamon raisin 3

cinnamon raisin 4

cinnamon raisin 5

cinnamon raisin 6

The best way to eat it is warm – right out of the oven with real butter.  It was as good as I remembered.  But don’t worry family, I won’t forget the “I’m sick of eating this talk.”




My neighbors call me ‘the bread fairy’. It’s a title I wear proudly. They call me that because I typically make two to four loaves of homemade bread every week. As much as we like and eat bread, it’s way more than we can consume. I build up a supply for my dad and deliver 4-6 loaves to him at a time, and I give it as gifts. But our freezer gets full, and our neighbors take really good care of us. So we pay them in bread. It’s a great arrangement for everyone.

I started making this bread years ago when my friend Sue gave me a sourdough starter. It was the second happiest day of Matt’s life.


It’s such an easy recipe to follow. Just leave the starter in the refrigerator until you are ready to make bread. That morning, pull it out of the fridge, feed it with ¾ cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons instant potato flakes, 1 cup hot water and stir. Leave it on the counter all day.

Then after dinner mix 1 1/4 cups of the starter with 6 cups bread flour, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 cup oil, and roughly 2 cups of hot water. Turn the dough into an oiled bowl and leave it on the counter overnight. The best place I’ve found is on the stove under the hood light.

in bowl

The next morning turn the dough onto a floured board, kneed a few times, divide in half and kneed a bit more. Place each half in a greased bread loaf pan. Put it back on the stove to rise all day. Late in the afternoon, bake the loaves at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

cooked in pans

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

This is seriously the best bread I’ve ever had. Folks ask to purchase it. There are so many fantastic ways to enjoy it. Matt likes it hot from the oven with real butter (please do not defile my bread with the fake stuff). My dad likes it toasted with peanut butter. My sister says it makes the best grilled cheese. I too like it warm with butter, but this is how I like it best –

nutella french toast

As crunchy Nutella banana stuffed French toast with real maple syrup…….


More Zucchini, More Baking

Gray and I visited my parents this past weekend. My mom, who currently has her right arm wrapped from finger tips to armpit, asked me if I would help her out in the kitchen. Let’s see, cook and bake all day Saturday? If I must.

She had two incredibly large zucchini that she needed to do something with, so I shredded them.

shredded zucchini

Then started offering up options. First, I made two loaves of zucchini bread. My mom uses the recipe below. It’s from a cookbook that she’s had forever – so long in fact that the thing is discolored, stained, and about to fall apart.  But this zucchini bread recipe has stood the test of time.

3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped nuts (my mom likes pecans)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix well. Pour into two greased bread pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes depending on the size of your pans. I added a bag of chocolate chips, and they turned out beautifully.

chocolate chip zucchini bread

But we still had a bunch of shredded zucchini, so I made a second batch of bread and this time I added a bag of white chocolate chips. They also turned out beautifully and were so incredibly moist. I couldn’t wait to try a slice.

Still more zucchini, so I suggested zucchini brownies. I used this recipe from Oh my goodness. These brownies were fantastic – so rich and fudgy.

zucchini brownie

No one would have guessed that they were made with a vegetable. We had them for dessert after dinner. My sister and her family were there, and we managed to demolish over half the pan.

Kaysie eating brownie

When I was done making a mess in her kitchen, she said she wanted me to take a loaf of bread along with some brownies home as a little thank you. OK – if you insist. I wanted that loaf with the white chocolate chips. I was so looking forward to cutting into it when I got home. About 30 minutes into the drive home I realized I had forgotten both. Sigh.  So I checked our garden when we got home.  No zucchini.  Bigger sigh.


We have a garden. A mighty big one at that. This is our third year for a garden, and each year my husband gets more ambitious. Now my idea of the perfect garden is one where I can walk outside at around 4:30, look to see what is ripe, pick it, and then figure out how to serve it for dinner. Matt’s idea of the perfect garden is one where he grows lots of things and then I put them up. Last year I canned green beans, made salsa, and froze zucchini and squash.

This year I will not be freezing zucchini and squash in their natural forms. It gets too watery and mushy for me — even for use in soups and stews. Instead I am freezing zucchini and squash in the form of breads and cakes!

chocolate zucchini bread

I told my husband about my plan. I don’t think he was too keen on it. But I pulled a number of packages out of the freezer from last year and threw them out. I just hate to waste. Breads and cakes are perfect items to take to someone as a gift or as a part of a meal. And I’d never let bread or cake go to waste.