Chinese Take Out Made Easy

Welcome to November 5, the first Saturday in November. On the National Celebration Stage, the first Saturday of every month is National Play Outside Day. I’m not sure what that says about growing up these days that we need to set aside one day each month to play outside. When I was a girl, every day was Play Outside Day.

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Italian Roast Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce

As a child, we seemed to have Roast Beef Dinners on a fairly regular bases during the winter. Part of that (I think) was because a big roast went a long way – there were always leftovers to help stretch of food budget. Warming the leftovers involved some creativity. You must remember, this was way back in the stone ages – you know, before the invention of micro ways.

Continue reading “Italian Roast Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce”

Peppered Grilled Beef Tenderloin with a Port Sauce

The weekend is coming and I wanted to share something a little special for your backyard grill . . .

It’s been a while since we’ve done any “fancy pants” cooking at home. This awesome supper was a collaborated effort – Hubby, Kiddo and I. Hubby has been teaching Kiddo the fine art of grilling. This was the perfect recipe for fine-tuning Kiddo’s all-important grilling skills. The tenderloin must first be seared over a hot bed of coals, then grilled over indirect heat until medium-rare. While the menfolk were cooking with fire, I was busy preparing the wonderful deep Port Wine Sauce.

Before we get started, I’d like to take a few minutes to discuss cuts of meat. I know I’ve talked about cuts of meat before, but it never hurts to go over it again, especially if you’ve missed those previous conversations.

Beef tenderloin is, in reality, a really big Filet Mignon – about 3 pounds worth – that hasn’t been cut into “steaks”. The tenderloin (not to be confused with the short loin) runs along both sides of the spine, and is usually harvested as two long snake-shaped cuts of beef. The tenderloin is sometimes sold whole. (Check with your butcher, he might have a whole tenderloin that has yet to be carved into different cuts). When sliced along the short dimension, creating roughly round cuts, and tube cuts, the cuts (fillets) from the small forward end are considered to be Filet Mignon. Those from the center are Tournedos of beef; however, some butchers in the United States label all types of tenderloin steaks “Filet Mignon.” The shape of the true Filet Mignon may be a hindrance when cooking, so most restaurants sell steaks from the wider end of the tenderloin – it is both a cheaper and more presentable cut of beef. When prepared the tenderloin as a roast, take as much as possible from thinner, pointed end for a true “Filet Mignon”. The odd shape of the point will not matter in a roast presentation since it is tucked into the rest of the roast and bound in place by twine.


The tenderloin is the most tender cut of beef and is also arguably the most desirable and therefore the most expensive. The average steer or heifer provides no more than 500 grams of Filet Mignon. Because the muscle is not weight-bearing, it contains less connective tissue, which makes it tender. However, it is generally not as flavorful as some other cuts of beef (example, primal rib cuts), and is often wrapped in bacon to enhance flavor, and/or is served with a sauce.

When working with a whole beef tenderloin, you will need to trim and tie the meat, removing the excess fat and sliver skin. Believe me, with a good set of knives, this isn’t difficult to do. Once upon a time, trimming meat scared me. Now it’s no big deal – although I try not to think too much about the per-pound price of a tenderloin roast while trimming away.




A little personal FYI here. Once upon a time, my Dad was a partner in a butcher shop. My first “job” outside the home was in his shop. Once upon a time, Dad raised beef cows. From an early age, I’ve been interested in the whys and wheres of food production.

It’s been hard to get my guys retrained when it comes to Filet Mignon – medium toward rare is the limit. They generally like their “steaks” cooked to a nice medium, just under well-done, with very little, if any pink. Since a true beef tenderloin is almost completely void of fat, cooking the meat beyond medium-rare and you risk endangering the tenderness of the meat. This roast was so tender, it melted like butter in your mouth. The pepper gave it wonderful flavor, and the port sauce was the perfect finishing touch. By the way, the sauce spooned over mashed potatoes was excellent as well.


Delicious does not even begin to describe the incredible flavors. This wonderful grilled tenderloin will rival the finest five-star restaurant.

Peppered Grilled Beef Tenderloin with a Port Wine Sauce
Ingredients – Tenderloin
1 Beef Tenderloin (3 1/2 – 4 lbs), trimmed (make sure you stress to the butcher you need the tenderloin cut, including the thinner end)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 cup coarse ground black pepper

With sharp knife, trim off excess fat and sliver skin from beef tenderloin. Fold narrow end of beef under to approximate thickness of remaining tenderloin. Tie folded end with butcher’s twine or heavy cotton string; continue to tie every 2 to 3 inches to hold shape. Pat beef dry with paper towels.

Brush beef with oil; sprinkle with salt. Rub pepper evenly over beef. Wrap beef with plastic wrap; let stand 30-45 minutes at room temperature.

Build a fire in your grill for indirect cooking. Once you’ve got a nice bed of coals and wood chips “glowing” in your chimney, empty and spread on half of the grill, leaving the other half empty.

Place beef on heated side of grill; cook 2 to 3 minutes on all sides or until browned.

Move beef to unheated side of grill. Insert meat thermometer into center of narrower end of beef.

Cover grill; cook over indirect heat for about 25 minutes. Move roast so that thicker side is over the coals and grill 10 minutes longer or until thermometer reads 135-degrees for medium-rare.

If thickest part of beef has not reached 130 to 135-degrees, it may be necessary to cut beef in half and leave thickest part on grill for 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Remove beef from grill; place on carving platter. Cover with a double wrap of foil to hold in the heat; let stand 15 to 20 minutes. Temperature will rise about 10-degrees during stand time.

Ingredients – Port Sauce
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 Cup Finely chopped Shallots
1 1/2 Cups Beef Consume
2 Teaspoons Chopped Thyme Leaves
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
3 Tablespoons Port Wine
3 Tablespoons Flour

While Filet Tenderloin rests, in 12-inch heavy skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.

Add shallots; sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove shallots from skillet and set aside.

Add port wine to deglaze pan. Melt 2 tablespoons butter with flour to create a roux. Cook roux 2 or 3 minutes.

Add broth, thyme and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Return shallot mixture to pan. Increase heat to medium-high; heat to boil, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to thicken.

Remove from heat, whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until smooth.

To serve, remove twine and cut beef into 1-inch slices. Serve with sauce.

Serve the tenderloin with buttery whipped potatoes and pan seared asparagus tips for a nice presentation. If desired, to add more pop and color to the plate, serve with two or three asparagus tips and two or three tender baby carrots with tops intact.


Dad’s Kabobs & Summers Long Ago

Running in the sprinklers.  Catching butterflies.  Anxiously awaiting the ice cream truck. These are all parts of summer’s long ago.  Simply times.  No worries. Growing up, Dad’s awesome kabobs were without a doubt a summertime favorite of mine. No summer was complete without these delicious hunks of marinated beef all smokey and tender with charred pieces of onions and blistered bell peppers. Let’s not forget the sweetness of cherry tomatoes. Perfection on a stick.

Dad would marinade chunks of steak the night before, and then put the kabobs on the spit to slowly barbecue over a bed of hot coals in his trusty Webber. The spit made this groaning sound, squeaking as it turned round and round over a bed of glowing coals. It seemed to take forever for the kabobs to cook, the savory scented ghostly gray smoke floating through the backyard, causing our mouths to water. Dad made us wait until the first piece of meat fell from the skewer and sizzled on the bed of coals below. Only then was it considered “done”. My brother and I would dance about in the smoke, excitedly waiting and watching for that first morsel to fall and sizzle madly on the red-hot coals. Brother Dear, when no one was looking, would poke at the meat in the hopes of coaxing one tiny piece to fall. Try as he might, there was no rushing perfection.

Dad’s Tenderloin Kabobs were reserved for special company. We could count on a dinner of yummy kabobs, cucumber salad and another company favorite  – Marie Callender’s fresh strawberry pie topped with a mountain of fresh whipped cream. Barbecue and strawberry pie – summer was officially in full swing.


Dad’s Marinated Beef Kabobs
Dad’s Secret Marinade
2 Cups Salad Oil
1 Cup Soy Sauce
¼ Cup Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons Dry Mustard
2 ½ Teaspoons Salt
1 Tablespoon Coarse, freshly ground Black Pepper
¾ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 ½ Teaspoons dried Parsley Flakes
2-3 Cloves Garlic, pressed
½ Cup Lemon Juice

Dad’s Kabobs
2 lbs Beef Tenderloin (½ lb per person, add more as needed)
1 Recipe Farley’s Secret Marinade (above)
1 Bag Pear Onions, outer layer peeled
1 Basket Cherry Tomatoes, washed
2 Red Bell Peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
2 Orange Bell Peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
20 bamboo Skewers or 10 long metal skewers for threading

Cut tenderloin into 2” cubes. Whisk together ingredients for Marinade. Place tenderloin pieces in a Tupperware Marinating container or in a large resealable bag that is placed in a casserole dish. Pour marinade over meat and place in refrigerator overnight. Flip container occasionally to turn meat and better saturate with marinade.

If using bamboo skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning. Remove meat from refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, about 20-30 minutes.

If using a zip-lock bag for marinating, pour meat with marinade into the casserole dish. Prep the vegetables and have them at the ready.

Thread 1 pear onion, 1 chunk of steak, 1 red pepper, 1 cherry tomato and 1 orange pepper onto skewer. Repeat until skewer is filled. DO NOT thread too tight or meat will not cook properly. Repeat same with remaining skewers until all the ingredients are used.

Build a hot bed of coals. Grill Kabobs 5 inches from coals for 3-5 minutes per side, giving a quarter turn each time for even grilling. Meat should be medium-rare for best results.

If you have a motorized spit for your trusty Webber, by all means use it.  Although the meat will take longer to reach perfection, it is well worth the wait.

Just a quick footnote: That’s Brother Dear on the left, sitting on Mom’s lap. I’m the rugrat on the far right, looking all serious while my Popsicle drips down my arm.

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