Another Food Memory


My wife and I don’t do it nearly enough, even though we both enjoy it.

Get your minds out of the gutter… I’m talking about hosting dinner parties.

We’re pretty good, even if I do say so myself. But it is an unbelievable amount of work which is why they are infrequent events for us. Nevertheless, every so often we feel obliged to have good friends over to catch up, break bread, and laugh a lot.

When we do, my job is the menu and meal preparation. My wife is in charge of decor, conversation flow and cleaning up afterwards. Her responsibilities require a back-breaking effort. My job has admittedly gotten considerably easier thanks to our acquisition of an Instant Pot.  The entree for our last dinner party was both simple and delicious and because it was prepared in the Instant Pot, I did not feel removed from the pre-dinner discussions which has so often been the case in previous parties. Here’s what we served our guests and it shot straight to the top of our company meal options:


  1. Take 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Season with salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, smoked paprika and red pepper flakes.
  2. Press Saute button (normal) and add 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.
  3. Place chicken in Instant Pot and brown on both sides (2-3 minutes per side). Work in batches in needed. Once browned, remove chicken from pot and set aside.
  4. Melt 3 Tablespoons butter in pot and add 1/2 diced onion and 4 garlic cloves (diced). Stir and add juice of 1 lemon to deglaze the pot. Continue to sauté for 1 minute.
  5. Add 3 teaspoons of Italian seasoning, zest from 1 lemon, and 1/3 cup of chicken broth.
  6. Place chicken back into pot, lock the lid and turn valve to SEALING.
  7. Turn off Saute function and select Pressure Cook (high). Set timer for 7 minutes.
  8. Once timer reaches “0”, let it natural release for 2 minutes then move valve to VENTING and release rest of pressure.
  9. Using tongs, remove chicken from pot. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream. Switch back to SAUTE and let sauce bubble. Put chicken back in pot to coat with sauce.
  10. Garnish with fresh parsley or lemon slices.

The dish works exceptionally well when paired with rice and asparagus or mashed cauliflower.

And for dessert, coconut milk ice cream covered with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries which had been marinated overnight in limoncello, fresh mint and basil.

All in all, a delightful evening with good food, warm and friendly conversation, and more than one trip down memory lane with old friends.  We should do it more often (said the guy whose job isn’t to clean up after.)

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Gobble, Gobble

thanksgiving pic.jpg

Another Thanksgiving is upon us and while we should all take time to reflect on those things we are or should be thankful for, there’s no escaping the fact that so much of this holiday will be focused on or around the dining room table.

I got off easy this year. My contribution to the family meal will be met with a simple cauliflower dish. I plan to make a cauliflower ‘mac n cheese’ concoction which has been a big hit in my household.  Here’s how to make it:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with salt.
  • Spray an 8×8  baking dish with vegetable oil spray
  • Cook the florets of 1 head of cauliflower in the boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat between several layers of paper towels to dry.
  • Transfer the cauliflower to the baking dish and set aside.
  • Bring 1 cup heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan, and whisk in 2 oz. of cream cheese and 1 1/2 teaspoons of dijon mustard until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of  shredded sharp cheddar cheese, salt, pepper and garlic (to taste) and whisk just until the cheese melts, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, pour over the cauliflower, and stir to combine. Top with an additional 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and bake until browned and bubbly hot, about 15 minutes.
  • Serve.

In years past, when I’ve been on turkey duty, I’ve relied on Giada’s citrus-stuffed recipe which results in a moist and flavorful bird.  It’s my go to recipe whenever asked to provide the main course. If only she would show how to carve the darn thing. I make the family leave the kitchen so they aren’t witness to the carnage when I attempt it. Here’s a link to that recipe.

Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus

But my most vivid Thanksgiving memories are courtesy of my maternal grandmother whose house hosted most of our turkey dinners when I was growing up. The one thing I most looked forward to was the Thanksgiving giblet gravy which was made only for this particular meal. It’s a southern variation using the giblets of the turkey and hard boiled eggs and it was all I could do not to drink it right out of the gravy boat. 

It’s been a while since I have had it. I may have to rectify that next year.  Here’s that recipe.

  1. Remove liver from giblets and refrigerate.

  2. Place the remaining giblets into a saucepan and cover with 4 cups cold water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the giblets for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. At this point add the liver to the saucepan and simmer for another 30 minutes.

  3. Place a mesh strainer or colander over a bowl. Drain the giblets and set the liquids aside to use in the gravy, if needed. Let the giblets cool. Remove the meat from the neck and chop with the rest of the meat

  4. Melt 4 TBs of butter in a heavy saucepan and stir in 4 TBs of flour. Cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the roux just barely begins to turn golden.

  5.  If you don’t have drippings from a roasted turkey or chicken, or if you only have a small amount, add the giblet broth or chicken or turkey stock to make 2 cups. Slowly stir in the drippings and/or broth into the roux. Add 1/2 cup of milk or half-and-half. Continue cooking and stirring until thickened.

  6. Taste and season the gravy with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  7. Stir in two chopped hard-cooked eggs and chopped giblets and serve.

  8. The recipe makes about 3 cups of old-fashioned gravy. Enjoy!


To all my readers and clients, may you have a Happy Thanksgiving! We hope to see you after the weekend!

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Note; Home Video Studio of Mount Dora will be closed from Thursday Nov 22 through Sunday Nov 25. We will reopen at 9:30am on Monday, Nov 26.

What’s For Dinner…Again?


I hit a home run with dinner tonight.  I made an Instant Pot recipe that was, if I happen to say so myself, delicious.  Here’s the recipe (

I received accolades and rave reviews from my dinner companions and had to chuckle to myself because I remember the road I travelled to get here.  I’ve even blogged a little about it in the past. But here’s a specific that came to mind as I accepted the culinary compliments.

When I was in college and on a tight budget, I had to figure out a way to feed myself with limited funds. My solution was to invent a meal that I could stretch to last me an entire week.  To my deepest embarrassment, here’s what I made.  Mind you, this recipe was entirely my doing. And I ate it more times that I can count.

Take a pound of ground beef (or ground chuck, whichever is cheaper) , brown it in a skillet with salt, pepper and a diced onion. Set aside.

Make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Add the ground chuck mixture to it.

Open a can of Campbell Cream of Mushroom soup. Do not add water.  Just dump the contents into the pot.

By now the concoction will have begun to take on the consistency of spackle. Add a can of corn.  Just because. All balanced meals have vegetables, right?

If you have followed the directions, the mixture will be nearly impossible to stir. I’ve broken many a wooden spoon trying to.  Here’s the secret. Pour a cup or three of red wine into the mess. That will loosen things up so you can stir and serve.  If wine is not available, a can of beer works just as well.

Trust me, you can improvise on this recipe nine ways till Sunday – nothing is going to “ruin” it.  And believe me, it did the job.  I made this on a Monday and by Friday, I was still eating it. Spreading the cost over the span of a week, I figured I was eating on about 70 cents a day. Got me through my senior year in college.  Haven’t dared make it since. I’m afraid to subject my colon to it in my advanced years.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.