Fruit Salad

Beautiful, fresh, delicious fruit! I have been wanting to plant an orchard here on Pleasant Grove Farms for some time. This spring we planted nine new fruit trees. We are now nurturing and hoping to keep alive 2 apple, 2 cherry, 2 yellow peach, 1 white peach, and 2 pear trees. Fingers crossed!

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Lemon and Thyme Shortbread Biscuits

Here’s a savory shortbread biscuit recipe with a hint of lemon sure to please. Serve as a base for shortcake or with a cup of tea.

shortbread 1

shortbread 2

I love the simplicity of this recipe. A classic shortbread biscuit is three simple ingredients of butter, sugar, and flour. I add the zest of one lemon and some thyme to give it a more complexed taste.

For a subtle lemony taste add one tablespoon of zest. If you like a stronger lemon taste add a bit more zest until you get the full flavor to your taste. Press in a baking pan.

shortbread 3

Prick the dough with a fork to make straight and even lines.

shortbread 4

Bake at 300°F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned.

So Good! – Ella

Lemon & Thyme Shortbread Biscuits

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: easy
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• 1 cup butter, softened
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 cups flour
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F.
  2. In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the zest and thyme to the butter mixture and gradually stir in the flour until well blended.
  4. Spread or pat the dough in the bottom of an ungreased baking pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
  5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until just lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately pierce all over with a fork. Cut into bars. Cool completely before removing from pan.

Bistecca Rasatain

What I love about cooking is the creativity. Once you get comfortable just throwing things together dinner becomes a snap. That’s not to say I don’t plan a weekly menu and make sure I have all the ingredients on hand. I’m a list maker for sure.

But there are times when the boss comes in the office at 5:00 PM to discuss the annual budget and you’re an hour late getting home, and the menu you so carefully planned is no longer feasible. Or, the kids have a game that went into overtime and you need a quick and easy dinner you can make while fitting in homework.

That’s when creativity comes into play and you open the refrigerator and just start taking out ingredients coming up with a meal on the fly. That’s how today’s post came about,  from a hectic, let’s just get it done, kind of night. My go to ingredient on days like this, Pasta!

I call this recipe Bisteca Rasatain which just means shaved steak. But doesn’t it sound more gourmet in Italian? Pull any shape pasta you have out of the cabinet and cook according to package instructions.


While the pasta cooks prepare the meat. Using a nice quality steak, I like to use ribeye, shave the meat into long thin strips. Sprinkle and rub some of the leftover coffee rub into the meat using a light hand. Today the rub is for extra seasoning not to seal or coat.


Heat some butter in a cast iron skillet and add the meat cooking on medium-high heat until brown, about 6 – 8 minutes. The Shaved steak will cook quickly because of its thinness. Remove from skillet, cover, and set aside for later.


In the same cast iron skillet add more butter, if needed. Stir in some cut asparagus and toss and cook for 3 minutes. Add some sliced mushrooms to the skillet. Toss and continue cooking an additional five minutes.


Remove from skillet, cover, and set aside for later.

Melt a tablespoon of butter in skillet. Remove from heat and stir in one tablespoon of flour. Return to heat and slowly whisk in some heavy cream, 1/4 can of mushroom soup, and 1/4 cup beef broth. Add some fresh sage and salt & pepper, if you like. Blend together. Add back the veggies and meat. Reduce heat to low and let simmer.


Drain the pasta in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Return the pasta to pot and stir in the mushroom cream sauce. Serve immediately.

Troppo bene! – Ella

Bistecca Rasatain

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


• 3/4 package Rotini pasta, 12 ounces
• 1 pound ribeye steak, shaved
• 1 tablespoon coffee rub
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 4 stalks asparagus, cut into thirds
• 1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I like to use shiitake or mini bella)
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1/4 cup cream of mushroom soup
• 1/4 cup beef broth, or water
• Fresh Sage
• Salt and Pepper


  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Sprinkle the coffee rub over ribeye and rub into meat.
  3. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet. Add the ribeye and cook tossing and stirring making sure to brown meat evenly brown, 6 – 8 minutes. Remove meat from skillet using tongs, cover with foil, and set aside.
  4. Add another tablespoon of butter to skillet, if needed. Sauté the asparagus 3 – 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 3 – 5 minutes, or until asparagus is tender but crisp. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  5. Melt the last of the butter in skillet. Remove from heat and blend in flour. Put back on heat and gradually add the heavy cream blending and removing lumps. Add cream of mushroom soup and broth. Whisk together. Add some fresh sage, lower heat to low and let simmer.
  6. Drain the pasta in a colander. Rinse with cold water and let drain again. Return pasta back to the pot it was cooked in.
  7. Stir in the creamy mushroom sauce.
  8. Serve immediately.

Shrimp Tacos

Whenever I travel I have two rules when it comes to eating: One, find restaurants that can’t be found at home. Two, if the parking lot is packed, STOP! The locals know where the best food is and if that parking lot is full you just found one of their hidden gems. Definitely, stop!

That is what I did on a trip to Georgia. This restaurant was nestled against a marsh on a long quiet road several blocks away from the more prevalent downtown. The building, from the outside, looked more like a fish cannery. It was a little rusted, a bit weathered and had the parking lot not been packed I would have driven past it without a second glance.

Thankfully, I stopped. The inside was beautiful, done in warm woods with a glass wall looking out over the marsh. And the food, well the food was absolutely delicious! I ordered shrimp tacos that came out fresh and hot. They were served on a bed of coleslaw that had a hint of heat but not so spicy to overwhelm the delicate shrimp.

That was the inspiration behind this dish. Golden fried shrimp on a bed of wasabi coleslaw wrapped in a taco. Simple and delicious!

Start by making a wasabi coleslaw. Pour a bag of ready-made coleslaw into a bowl. In a separate mixing bowl stir together rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce, red chile powder, fresh ginger, sesame oil, and wasabi paste. Stir in the wasabi paste a little at a time. Wasabi paste can go from spicy to downright painful very quickly. You want a hint of spice for interest, not an overly spicy slaw. So, go slow.

I cannot stress enough that spice and herb measurements are only suggestions. Always add them based on personal taste, not recipe instructions.

Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and toss. Set aside until ready to use allowing the flavors to marry.

Heat an inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet, or pan, over medium heat until the temperature of the oil reaches 375°F. In three shallow bowls spread flour in one, panko bread crumbs in another, and in the last bowl mix an egg with a tablespoon of milk. Add Salt and pepper to the flour  or egg mixture to add more seasoning if preferred.

Coat the shrimp in the flour, then in the egg mixture, and then in the panko, coating completely. Fry until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Grill, or heat, some flour tortillas. Assemble the tacos by spreading coleslaw down the center of each tortilla. Top with 4-5 shrimp. Serve immediately. – Ella

Shrimp Tacos

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Wasabi Coleslaw
• 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 1 teaspoon soy sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
• 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 1 10-ounce bag ready-made coleslaw
Crispy Shrimp
• 12 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon milk
• 1 3/4 cups panko breadcrumbs
• Vegetable oil, for frying
• 8 flour tortillas


    Make the Coleslaw:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the first 7 ingredients together. Add the coleslaw and toss. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Make the shrimp:
  3. Pour about an inch of oil into a large skillet or pan. Heat over medium heat until the oil heats to 375°F.
  4. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg lightly with the milk. Place the panko in a third bowl. Coat the shrimp in the flour, then in the egg mixture, and then into the panko, coating completely. Place the shrimp in the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about a minute on each side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
  5. Make the tacos:
  6. Prepare the tacos following the package directions.
  7. Assemble the tacos:
  8. Spread coleslaw down the center of each tortilla. Top with 3 – 4 shrimps. Serve immediately.

Coffee-Rubbed Fillets

I had my first coffee rubbed steak on vacation in Maui. I had been there for two weeks and have eaten my share of fresh fish and roasted pork. Both were excellent but, my taste buds were craving something different. I found a coffee-rubbed ribeye on the menu ordered it and fell in love.

Coffee rubs are used to tenderizer and seal in moisture. Additionally, the acidity of coffee cleanses the palate enriching the flavor of meats. Trying to duplicate my restaurant experience at home I purchased processed coffee rubs but, too often the rubs were too salty, or spicy, or overpowered the meat.

I began throwing together my own blends and after a few failures, I found what I consider the perfect coffee rub. The right rub, however, is only half of the success. The cooking technique is just as important. Below is my version of the perfect coffee-rubbed beef fillets.

Start with a high-quality coffee bean. I use a medium roast as the dark can overpower, but that’s a personal preference only. Set your coffee grinder to fine, or espresso, and grind the beans. Place the coffee in a small bowl.


Add equal parts of ground Himalayan pink rock salt, raw sugar, garlic powder, cracked black pepper, chili powder, paprika, and dried oregano.


Start with a lesser amount of the ginger, mixing and tasting after each addition to achieve the desired sweetness for your taste. You want a hint of the tangy sweetness that ginger brings but too much will overpower the other spices very quickly. Go slow. It’s easier to add more than overcompensate for too much.


Because there is plenty of salt and pepper in the rub I do not salt and pepper the steaks. But, this is the time to do that if you like.

Rub the coffee rub on the steaks. If you are new to coffee rubs start out slow. Sprinkle and rub in small increments evenly coating with a thin layer. You want to create a nice seal for the meat, but you don’t want to taste the rub. It is there to enhance the meat’s flavor not become the flavor.

You don’t want to see excess rub on and around the meat. Personally, I rather you have too little on the first attempt. The more you use rub the more confidence you’ll gain.

˅ Too much ˅

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the butter and melt. Place the steak in the skillet and heat until golden brown. Flip the steak over and cook 2 more minutes. This is searing the steak. The actual cooking of the steaks is done in the oven.


Transfer to a baking sheet and cook in a preheated 425°F oven for 10 – 12 minutes. Adjust time up or down to preferred doneness. Need help with the cooking time? Here’s a comprehensive *  cooking chart. *

Let steaks rest 5 minutes before serving. – Ella


Coffee Rubbed Fillets

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


• 2 tablespoons finely ground coffee
• 1 tablespoons ground Himalayan pink rock salt, or kosher salt
• 1 tablespoons raw sugar
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
• 1 tablespoon dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 2 thick prime beef fillets
• 2 tablespoons butter


  1. Combine the spices in a bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°.
  3. Rub the coffee rub onto steaks creating a thin seal.
  4. Heat a heavy skillet, cast iron if you have it, heat the oil over high heat.
  5. Melt the butter in the skillet and cook the steaks until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the steak over, cook for 2 minutes and then transfer to a baking sheet and cook in the oven to the desired doneness.
  6. Remove and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Smokey Joes

I purchased some liquid smoke for a recipe some time back and, like so many spices and seasonings, had too much left over. Not wanting to just throw it out I was looking for a way to use it up. I started to think about smoked foods and of course, barbecue and grilling came to mind. But, alas, it is still too cold to grill. Hashtag, so over winter!

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