Beef Tips and Vegetables in Brown Gravy


This is a very simple recipe prepared in a pressure cooker.  A couple years ago an electric pressure cooker was at the top of my Christmas wish list.  For anyone who is a little afraid of using a pressure cooker and has visions of a pressure cooker lid imbedded in the kitchen ceiling, fear not.  They really are very simple and safe to operate.  It’s an appliance I wish I had had when I was still working full time and preparing meals when I got home from work.  Even as a retired person I am not a good advance meal planner.  Five o’clock rolls around and I start thinking about what I’m going to make.  The two primary functions of my microwave are reheating leftovers and defrosting frozen solid meat so I can make dinner.  While it’s not recommended, because of the amount of time necessary to build to full pressure, with a pressure cooker you could actually start with a piece of frozen meat and have a great dinner on the table in less than an hour.  You can brown meat, sauté, simmer and keep your food warm all in one pot.  The pressure cooker makes even inexpensive cuts of meat tender and seems to intensify favors in a very positive way.  Be careful with salt.

I’m hoping that this recipe motivates my good friend who has a spanking new electric pressure cooker (probably still in its original box) to get it out and give it a try.


1 1/2 to 2 pounds of sirloin steak

2 T olive oil

1 large onion rough chopped

2 carrots sliced

2 stalks of celery rough chopped

1 cup baby bellas

3-4 cloves of garlic sliced

2 cups of beef broth (I use better than bouillon)

1/4 cup brandy

1 T Dijon mustard

1 T tomato paste

salt and pepper to taste

2 T room temperature butter

2 T AP flour

1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped

2 green onions sliced


Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium high heat.  Cube the beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add the meat to the pressure cooker in batches and brown.  Don’t crowd the meat or it won’t brown properly.  Remove to a plate and continue until all the meat has been browned.

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Add the onion, mushrooms, carrots and celery to the pot.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until tender.

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Add the sliced garlic and brandy.  Cook until the brandy comes to a boil.  Add the mustard and tomato paste to the broth.  Return the meat to the pot and pour in the broth.  Lock the lid in place and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.

Release the pressure naturally.  Remove the lid, always tilting the lid away from you to allow for any steam to escape.  Bring the sauce to a boil.  In a small bowl whisk together the butter and flour to form a paste and stir it into the sauce.

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Bring back to a boil.  Simmer for 2 minutes.  Serve over rice or noodles.  Garnish with the parsley and green onions.



NOTE:  I keep a few staples in my freezer that make spur of the moment food prep easier.  Recipes always call for one or two tablespoons of tomato paste.  You can buy tomato paste in tubes but it is more economical to buy the small cans.  Open one end of the can and put it in the freezer for awhile.  Once it’s frozen open the other end of the can and use the lid to push the tomato paste out.  Slice and put each slice into a snack bag.  Store in your freezer.

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Sweet n Sour Stuffed Cabbage


Sweet n sour cabbage rolls, smashed new potatoes and homemade applesauce. It’s what was for dinner. I think my actual favorite thing about this dish is the cabbage and sauerkraut “gravy” that you cook the cabbage rolls in. I’m thinking that all of the leftovers would make an awesome pot of soup for the next day. This is another dish that I did in the pressure cooker but you could do this on the stovetop and finish it in the oven or even a crockpot and it would be every bit as good. What makes this recipe for cabbage rolls a little unique is the addition of sauerkraut And balsamic vinegar to the mix.  See what you think.


large head of green cabbage

1 pound or so of ground beef, pork or lamb

1 large sweet onion divided

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 cup cooked long grain white or brown rice

1 large egg

fresh mint chopped

2 T canola oil

2 cups fresh (refrigerated) sauerkraut

1 can tomato sauce

1 pint stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup chicken broth or stock

2 T balsamic vinegar

3 T granulated sugar


Carefully separate the large outer leaves of the cabbage and dip each leaf in a pot of simmering, salted water to soften. This will make the cabbage leaves much easier to work with. Chop the remainder of the cabbage and set aside.


Combine the ground meat, rice, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion, egg, and mint.


Mix well with your hands and shape into 7 or 8 “footballs”.


Put one of the ovals on the core end of the cabbage leaf. Begin rolling it up folding in the sides to make a neat package.


Put the cabbage rolls seam side down on a plate and set aside.


Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium heat. Rough chop the rest of the onion and add the onion and chopped cabbage to the hot oil.  Sauté for a few minutes to soften.


Add the sauerkraut, tomatoes, tomato sauce, stock, vinegar and sugar and stir together.  I didnt have fresh sauerkraut and substitued canned.


Arrange the cabbage rolls in the sauce. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Release the pressure naturally.

Serve the cabbage rolls with some of the sauce.


NOTE:  A cabbage roll is a savory entree that you can stuff with a variety of ingredients. Instead of rice you could use barley or quinoa. You can add mushrooms or other vegetables to the stuffing. Cabbage rolls are part of the traditional cuisine of many European and Balkan countries.  In Finland they are known as kaalikääryle.  I don’t ever remember eating these as a child but apparently  in Finland cabbage rolls are baked in the oven and are brushed with dark syrup. The syrup glaze is made with bacon, dark corn syrup, and tomato paste.  I may have to try that next time.  And of course they served them with fresh lingonberries or lingonberry jam.

Lemon and Garlic Chicken ala Pressure Cooker


Can you imagine cooking an entire chicken in 15 minutes that is moist and fall off the bone tender and has a delicious sauce?  It’s that easy in my electric pressure cooker. The beauty of this pressure cooker is that you can brown, boil, simmer and keep food warm. One pan to wash and it’s easy to clean. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can surely prepare this recipe using a roaster in your oven. Use a meat thermometer to make sure your chicken reaches 165F.  I used to be a little frightened of pressure cookers…some of you might be as well. Afraid it would start rocking on the stove and the top would blow off leaving dinner on the ceiling. Trust me, the new electric model is easy to use, safe, and not the least bit scary.

Though I love the combination of garlic and lemon I was a little concerned that the flavors might be too strong but they were not. The sauce had a nice citrus tang but was not overpowering. Good balance.  I think you’ll like it.


1 roasting chicken cut into pieces (I saved the back for broth)

kosher salt to taste

3 T canola or olive oil

5-6 cloves of garlic sliced

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup vermouth or dry white wine

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup chicken stock

Fresh parsley chopped




Generously salt chicken pieces and heat oil in the pressure cooker. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and brown on both sides.  Remove browned pieces to a platter. While your chicken is browning squeeze your lemons and slice your garlic.


Add the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes to the hot oil and cook for about 1 minute until garlic becomes fragrant. image

Add lemon juice, vermouth and stock to the pot and arrange the chicken in the liquid.



Lock the lid and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally. Remove the chicken to a serving platter. Bring the sauce to a boil and stir in chopped parsley. If you wish you can thicken the juices with a little flour or corn starch. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

While the chicken was cooking I decided to prepare some smashed cauliflower for a side. An easy, tasty side.


1 large head cauliflower cleaned and cut up

3-4 garlic cloves (I know, no vampires in our house!)

1-2 cups chicken stock or broth

1/2 cup Romano cheese shredded

1/2 cup Le Gruyere cheese shredded

2-3 green onions thin sliced

salt and pepper (white pepper if you have it) to taste

2 T butter



Cook cauliflower and garlic cloves in the chicken broth until the cauliflower is fork tender. Drain off the broth holding a little back to add in while smashing. Add butter to the cauliflower and begin mashing with an ordinary potato masher until the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add some of the broth if necessary. Add the shredded cheese, salt and pepper to taste and green onions stirring well. This is one of my favorite sides!

I was always taught to use contrasting colors on your plate and white and white are a bit off putting. So I added a sizable sprig of parsley (good for getting rid of garlic breath after dinner) and some cranberry relish which I think is a must have for any poultry dish.


And then there was color.

Lemon and garlic chicken with smashed cauliflower. It’s what’s for dinner tonight. And tomorrow night.

NOTE:  My lemons were particularly juicy and 2 of them made a little over 3/4 cup of juice. I put the extra juice in a small zip lock snack bag and freeze it for a time when I have no fresh lemons on hand.


And seriously, parsley IS a good breath freshener.