Thursday, October 30, 2008

Beef Stew

Disclaimer - this isn't your mom or your dad's beef stew.

This stew is just too darn good and totally worth the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears. I made this last night and we didn't eat until almost 8:15 PM. Although everyone was groaning and starting to look emaciated. Groaning turned into looks of enternal love and devotion for the cook.

Beef Stew -

Cut up a 2 to 3 lb. chuck roast or pot roast into 2 inch cubes and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat a large heavy pot Dutch oven over medium-high heat with 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and 3 tablepsoons of butter.

While the pan is heating, place about 1 cup of all-purpose flour in a large bowl. Dredge the cubed meat through the flour and shake off the excess. Place the meat into the heated oil/butter and brown on all sides, be careful not to over crowd the pan. You will have to brown the meat in batches. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and set aside.

Add one bottle of red wine, preferably burgundy to the pot and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pot with a spoon. Make saure you scrape up all those tasty bits. Once the wine is heated through, add the browned meat, 8 sprigs of fresh tyme, 6 cloves of smashed garlic, 3 wide peels from an orange, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste, 2 bay leaves and 2-1/2 cups of beef stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquid starts to thicken just a little, about 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, add 5 medium sized red potatoes quartered or 8 small new potatoes halved, 3 peeled and sliced carrots, 1/2 lb. frozen pearl onion/green pea melody and a pinch of sugar to reduce the acidity of the wine.

Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30 more minutes, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.

Cook 2 cups of white rice.

Spoon a serving of rice in a bowl and ladle stew over rice. Garnish with a slight drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, freshly chopped flat leaf parsley and a dollop of Horseradish Cream Sauce. Serve some crunchly, garlicy bread on the side.

Horseradish Cream Sauce -

Whisk together 1 cup of reduced fat sour cream, 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, salt and pepper to tasted and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a bowl. Garnish dollop with chopped chives.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Asian London Broil

I am so jazzed that so many of you are interested in Lauren's soccer. They won last night (1-0), Whoo-hoo!!!! Check out the story and Sweet 16's picture here. Last evening very cold, but the game was such a nail biter, my blood pressure and rapid heart beat kept me warm.

So let's cook some steak - this is so easy and quick. I cooked two London Broils, the recipe below is good for one London Broil, 2 ribeyes or strips, 4 pork chops or a 4 chicken breast or thighs.

Asian London Broil -

Place whatever meat you are using in a shallow non-reactive dish or in a re-sealable plastic bag.

In a bowl, blend together 2 tablespoons grill seasoning (recommended brand McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning), 1/4 cup Tamari dark soy, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/2 roasted red bell pepper thinly sliced and cut into 1-inch lengths, 2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes, 2 large cloves garlic, chopped, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 2 scallions finely chopped.

Whisk ingredients together and pour over meat. Let meat marinate for about 20 minutes each side at room temperature. Place meat on outdoor grill or in cooking pan and pour marinade over meat.

Cook London Broil in a pre-heated 425 degree oven until desired doneness.

I received this award from Reeni at Cinnamon Spice and Everthing Nice. She has a fantastic blog with some truly sinful treats. Visit Reeni and vote for her Great Pumpkin Cupcakes! Thank you Reeni.

I am passing this award on to:

Gigi from Afterthoughts

Duckie from A Duck in Her Pond

April from Abby Sweets

Duckie from A Duck in Her Pond sent me this award. If you haven't visited Duckie's blog you must go there now! She writes very scarey Halloween stories, romantic twirling stories ~sigh~ and cute fantasy stories plus you get to see her eat ribs and candy corn! Thanks Duckie!

I am passing this on to:

Pam from For the Love of Cooking

Reeni - Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

Pam from Sidewalk Shoes

Megan from Megan's Cooking

Candy from The Courageous Cook

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Smoky Mountain Shepherd's Pie

Oh, how I love Shepherd's Pie. Did you know I hadn't even heard of Shepherd's Pie until four years ago when my eldest child, Lauren, asked me to make it? The name of the dish did not appeal to me at all; I cringed. Lauren had eaten Shepherd's Pie at school and described to me all the wonders new favorite dish. She and I made her Shepherd's Pie to her exact specifications - absolutely no green things or onions.

I just can't leave well enough alone. For several years I've toyed with Lauren's favorite dish and now, well let's just say it's not her favorite anymore. In an effort to maintain peace and harmony, I make a small one one the side her way.
Smoky Mountain Shepherd's Pie -
Place 2 lbs. of potatoes in a pot, cover the potatoes with water, salt the water when it comes up to a boil and boil potatoes for about 15 minutes, until tender.

Heat a skillet with high sides over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and four strips of smokey bacon, chopped. When bacon is crisp, remove and drain on paper towel lined plate.
Add 1-1/2 lbs. of ground sirloin to the pan and completely brown. The sirloin will pick up the smoky taste of the bacon.
Add 1/2 lb. of sliced baby bella mushrooms and 1 chopped onion to pan and cook until tender, about 7 more minutes and then season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While sirloin is cooking, heat a small sauce pot over medium heat and melt 2 tablespoons of butter and then whisk in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour (roux). Continuously stir the roux for about 5 minutes and then whisk in 1-1/2 cups of beef stock, one-half cup at a time.
Once the beef stock is thoroughly combined, add 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire and season sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer to thicken, about 5 minutes.

Pour gravy over meat and combine. Turn on the oven broiler.

Place drained potatoes back into the pot and mash them. Fold in 3 tablespoons of sour cream, 1 cup of shredded cheddar, 1/2 cup of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese and 4 chopped scallions.
Spread the meat in a buttered casserole dish and spread the potatoes across the top of the meat in an even layer.
Garnish the potatoes with paprika, shredded cheddar and shredded Monterrey Jack. Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes and then place under the broiler to crisp and brown the potatoes.
Crumble reserved bacon over top. I just now noticed I forgot to take a picture with the bacon garnishing the top.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Orange and Chcolate Cookie Bars

Thanks for all of your well wishes and kind thoughts for my daughters' soccer teams. My eighth grader's team won about two games all season and I was sure we would go to the tournament, we would cheer them on and go home because they wouldn't win. Well I don't know what in the world happened to those girls, but they won all three games (shut-outs) and now have a championship game Thursday. Oh, and I found out at 6:00 PM yesterday that their soccer banquet is tonight.
My high schooler's play-offs begin tomorrow night and just so you can all feel like you'd love to be there with me...the predicted high for tomorrow is 41 and possible flurries in the mountains. We live in the mountains, the high school soccer field is in the mountains and at game time it's supposed to be around 35. Are you jealous yet?
I made these Orange Cookie Bars so we could all cozy up with a cup of coffee or tea and munch on these little delights and forget about chapped lips, cold weather and outdoor sports.
Orange and Chocolate Cookie Bars -

Bring a package of store bought sugar cookie dough to room temperature. Spread the dough out evenly in a brownie pan. I used this disposable pan for easy clean up and I liked the scalloped design for the cookie dough edges. Bake per the package directions (350 for 14 minutes).

Remove from oven when golden brown and set aside to cool.

Spread a jar of orange marmalade over the baked cookie dough. Don't you just love orange marmalade? Just the thought of it makes me feel warm all over.

Toast 2 tablespoon of walnuts and sprinkle over orange marmalade. You can toast pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, whatever you like.

Melt three-quarters of a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler. Nothing heals chapped lips faster than melted chocolate.

Drizzle the melted chocolate over the top. I'm more of a glunker I guess. OI can't drizzle very well.

Since I'm not a good drizzler, I swirled the chocolate over the top to somewhat hide my "foe-pa".

They didn't come out as pretty as I had hoped, but sometimes pretty is everything, it's what's inside that counts.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'd Rather be Blogging

Our freshman daughter's soccer team won the district title last night and it's on to regionals beginning Tuesday. Our 8th grader has a soccer tournament Saturday and Sunday; then she's done! Have I ever mentioned that soccer is evil?
I miss my kitchen and am leaving work early to get busy.

In the meantime, stop by and visit Derfwad Manor. Derfwad Manor is a completely funny and entertaining blog I happened to find yesterday. It's not a food blog, but I am always trying to broaden my horizons.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chicken Rustica

I've been spectating at my high school freshman's soccer play-offs two nights this week and have to go again tonight. (Check out paragraphs The Mountain Press paragraphs 7 and 8; yeah, she gets her stealth size from me). Anyway, I finally found my way back into the kitchen last night and tweaked this recipe a little more and hit pasta Nirvana!

Cut up one pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Cut them a little bit larger than bite size. You don't want them real small since this is a rustic dish.

Brown the chicken in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Season with salt and black pepper. When chicken is golden brown, remove from skillet and set aside.

To the same skillet, add one small onion diced, 3 cloves of garlic minced and one roasted red bell pepper chopped. Saute over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add one 14.5 oz. can of roasted tomatoes, 2 teaspoons dried basil, salt and pepper to taste, a 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Return the chicken to the skillet and add 3/4 of freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Stir gently to blend. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add 2 teaspoons of capers and gently blend.

Use your vegetable peeler and slice off some more Pecorino Romano cheese to make it look really rustic and eat and groan and pass out because it is THAT good!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

This is one of my family's favorite recipes during the winter. It's so easy and in the top 10 for comfort foods. I just wouldn't be your friend if I didn't share this wholesome goodness with you.

Easy Chicken and Dumplings -

Buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery, de-bone and de-skin and shred the meat and set aside.

Chop 1 medium onion, peel and chop 3 carrots, chop 3 stalks of celery.

In a skillet saute onions until translucent over medium high heat in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, add one 32 ounce container of chicken stock, 1-1/2, 32 ounce containers of chicken broth, 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, carrots, celery, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and sauteed onions. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes to soften vegetables.

Add 2 cans of condensed chicken gravy, stir to combine and simmer another 1o minutes. Add shredded chicken.

Open a can of buttermilk biscuits and quarter each biscuit. Add biscuits to pot and cover pot. Let simmer for 10 minutes and serve with crunchy French bread.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Finally, the Weekend!

Are you looking forward to the weekend as much as I am? It's lightly raining outside now and cooler weather is coming our way. I'm just looking forward to some down time. We've had a busy week and tonight I have to work the concession stand for the homecoming football game. Maybe I'll post on the yummy cuisine served from concession stands at high school football games!

Our oldest daughter's high school soccer team starts district tournaments next week. They have three games and my youngest daughter's team will finish their regular season Monday night. Hopefully we'll be done with soccer by the first week in November.

I received this award from an amazing food blogger, Pam from For the Love of Cooking. Pam makes the most mouth-watering and professionally photographed dishes. Her stories and glimpses into her life are wonderful. If Pam's blog isn't a regular stop for you already, please visit and I'm sure it will become a regular stop for you too. Thank you Pam, I really appreciate the award!

Here are the rules for this award. Please find 5 blogs, of any kind that you love to read. Write a post about the blogs you picked, linking back to them. Make sure you let them know you gave them an award.

1. April from Abby Sweets
2. John from My Viewfinder (my brother)
3.Greg from Greg's General Store
4. Reeni from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
5. Lori from Missbinnyc

These are all excellent blogs that feature great recipes, amazing photography and side-splitting stories. Please check them out - you will love them as much as I do.

Thanks again to Pam for giving me this award. Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pumpkin Seeds

I was really stoked that a lot of you were really interested in what I did with the pumpkin seeds and I hope you're not disappointed.

The pumpkin seeds fresh out of two pumpkins - very wet, slimy, sticky and full of hunks of pulp.

Toss the seeds in a fine mesh colander and rinse them well and pick out the stringy pulp. A few little strings will remain, just get rid of the big's not too tedious. Let them drain for a few minutes.

Spread the seeds out on a baking sheet. This part is VERY IMPORTANT! Let them dry overnight. Believe me you will need "overnight" to let them dry.

When the seeds are completely dry, give them a light coating of extra virgin olive oil and toss the seeds to coat evenly. Now all that's left to do is season them any way you like. We seasoned ours with salt, cayenne and garlic powder. The possibilities are endless. You can make them sweet or savory or any degree of salty or spicy. After you season the seeds toss them again to evenly distribute the seasoning.

Slide the seeds in a pre-heated 250 degree and roast for about 1 hour until they are golden brown. I had intentions of bagging them up to send to work and school with my husband and the homegirlz but that didn't happen. They were gone and I mean all gone in less than 45 minutes.

I'd love to hear how long they last at your house!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pumpkin Puree

It's fall and pumpkins are everywhere! Pumpkins are popping up in the stores, on front porches, and on blogs. I just don't know that much about pumpkins; in fact, I didn't know until a couple of minutes ago whether a pumpkin was a fruit or a vegetable. Maybe I've led a very sheltered life because all I've ever done with pumpkins is carved them for Halloween and used them as fall decor.

After seeing the gorgeous photo my brother had on his blog of pumpkins and after drooling all over my keyboard day after day eyeing all the amazing recipes my blogosphere friends make, I knew I needed to broaden my horizons. It is time to de-mystify the pumpkin; get to the core of where all these delicious pumpkins recipes begin. I searched Foodnetwork's site, and and figured out puree was the answer.

Pumpkin Puree -

I started off with those two small-ish pumpkins and whacked their little tops off.

Cut the tops off the pumpkins.

Cut them in half and then quarter them. Get a spoon and remove the seeds. Note here, this takes a little muscle since the insides are pretty stringy and slimey.

Hang on to the seeds, we'll need them tomorrow. In my pumpkin research I learned we can use the seeds. Next to using the re-usable grocery bags, I'm feeling pretty darn green!

Put your de-seeded pumpkin quarters in a baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes (leave the skin on). Some sites recommend coating the pumpkin with olive or vegetable oil. I didn't do this because if I use this puree for a cake, pie, etc., I don't want the baked oil taste in my confection. I felt the pumpkin had enough moisture in it to hold up during the baking process.

Ah, beautiful huh? It makes your house smell kind of autumn-y too.

Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, peel the skin from the "meat". This should peel pretty easily.

Place the pumpkins pieces, a couple at a time in the food processor or blender and pulse until you have a somewhat smooth mixture with a slightly runny mashed potato consistency. I also read if the pumpkin seems too dry while processing add a little water, a tablespoon at a time to get the proper consistency.

Spoon the puree into a bowl and keep processing the remaining pumpkin.

Spoon the puree into re-sealable freezer bags and flatten out to get the all the air out of the bag and store in the freezer until you are ready to use. The puree should be good in the freezer for up to three months.

I guess for Christmas I'll have to find a search for mincemeat and find out which animal it comes from...sheesh, it never ends does it?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Shrimp in Vodka Sauce

I am so excited about this dish. I just wish I had more pictures. When I started, I grabbed my camera and turned it on; my battery was dead. My daughters were out and had their cameras with them, I went after my husband's SLR and was trying to figure out how to use it and the battery went dead. My camera battery charged enough to snap the photo to the left at completion.

Debbie at Mocha Me posted a wonderful Tomato Vodka Sauce recipe last week that looked fabulous. I am a fan of a good tomato vodka sauce and her recipe sounded so simple I had to try it. As Debbie said in her post, "...this is a sauce that rocks!!!" - she didn't exaggerate. I tweaked it a bit and wound up with such an incredible tasting tomato sauce variation. The shrimp just put it way over the top.

The recipe calls for 1 onion chopped. I didn't want the strong onion taste in the sauce so I substituted 3 scallions finely chopped. I felt the scallions would give the sauce a milder, sweeter onion taste along with a hint of a garlic flavor without being over powering. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, add minced scallions to skillet and saute until transparent. Add one 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes and cook over moderate heat for about 25 minutes or until almost no liquid remains in skillet. Stir frequently. Increase heat and add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup of vodka and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a light boil, reduce heat add 1 pound of peeled shrimp (41-50 count); boil for 2 minutes, sauce will thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve over your favorite cooked pasta. Top with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano