Monday, October 27, 2014

BONNIE'S BEEF STEW






It still feels like summer in Az (91 today) but I'm once again trying to will fall into visiting us. I do this every year. Saturday I made beef stew - and decided I haven't been all that fond of my beef stew recipes all these years. I took some of my old ingredients, added some new and came up with what I think is the best beef stew I have ever made in my life! I think using beef base and wine in the broth did the trick. And not cooking wine - that stuff is NASTY! Now - I'm not a wine drinker and if you have objection to using it in your cooking, you can leave it out (the alcohol cooks out, so don't fret) but I would advise not to. It makes the broth so deep and hearty. 

 If you haven't ever used beef or chicken broth base, you should.  "Better Than Bullion" is good but Costco caries Tones and I think it's just as good. So much better than broth - and you can make it as strong or weak as you like. I make it from the container like the directions say and if you need your broth saltier, add a little more base instead of salt. More depth of flavor - once again.  I also use half chicken and half beef broth. I also cut the carrots in rather large pieces so that those picky eaters in our house there's only 2 of us and it isn't me can pick them out. 


BONNIE'S BEEF STEW

1 1/2-2 lbs. beef stew meat (I cut them smaller than they come from store)
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3  glove garlic, chopped
2-3 ribs of celery cut into chunks

2-3T olive oil

In large stock pot, heat olive oil and saute chopped onion, garlic celery and stew meat just until meat is not pink any longer. Add:

10  cups broth (I use half chicken and half beef)
1/2 cup good red wine (not cooking wine - its awful)
1 1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 T. fresh flat leaf parsley (Italian) or 1/2 T. dried parsley
1/2 t. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 t. sugar
coarse black pepper
Kosher salt to taste (I usually add more broth concentrate if it needs salt)

Bring to a soft boil, cover with a lid and simmer on low about an hour until beef is tender.  Add:

1 1/2 lbs cubed red potatoes (don't peel them)
4-5 medium carrots cut into 2 inch chunks

Continue to simmer just until potatoes and carrots are tender.


If you like your broth a little thicker, mix 2 T. cornstarch with a little cold water and quickly stir into hot soup, stirring continually so you don't get chunks.  We like our broth soupy, so I don't thicken it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

APPLE BREAD WITH PECAN PRALINE GLAZE


I have so many recipes pinned on Pinterest, I think its time I went through them and printed (yes - the old fashioned way to read a recipe). I always think maybe the source they came from will get deleted or someone will cancel their blog.  I found this and pinned it while looking for a different recipe.  This cute girl's name is Kathleen and her cooking blog is gonnawantseconds.com.  And let me tell you, this bread is good for second or thirds or even fourths.  I only used 1 t. cinnamon, as I don't like my food too "cinnamony".  I know that's not a word.  It makes two loaves and I gave one to a neighbor.  Great fall recipe to use with all the wonderful apples that are appearing. The glaze is so delicious!! This bread is heavy and doesn't raise very high but is so dense, moist and delicious.

Apple Bread with Pecan Praline GlazeYield: 2 Loaves

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Make The Bread:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 8X4 inch baking pans with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl whisk together the first nine ingredients.  In a separate bowl, mix eggs, oil and vanilla.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and combine. (The batter will be extremely thick). Mix in apples and 1 cup chopped pecans until evenly distributed through batter.
3. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans and smooth out the top of batter with the back of a spoon.  Bake in preheat oven for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean and edges of bread are just pulling away from baking pan.
Make The Glaze:
1. In a heavy bottomed 2 quart saucepan, bring brown sugar, butter and milk to a boil over medium heat. Boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat.
2. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and using a hand held electric mixer beat on medium speed until smooth. Pour half the glaze immediately over each loaf of cooled bread and sprinkle evenly with pecans.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

Following Food Network on Instagram adds excitement to my life.  I get pretty excited about the recipes that come through my feed each day.  Especially when they involve baking.  Who doesn't love a good brownie?
Whenever I come across a new brownie recipe, I have to try it.  Brownies made from a box are good, so taking the time to make them from scratch means the recipe has to be a really good one.  
I have tried lots of brownie recipes that have been really good, but this one might be my fave.
(slightly adapted from a recipe off the Food Network website)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla
3 large eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I recommend Ghirardelli)

*First, melt butter and let cool to room temp.  When the butter is cooled, mix the sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs together.  Add flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.  Mix until combined.  Add chocolate chips and mix in.  Spread batter into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Mine were done a few minutes before that, so make sure and check them.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Easy Coleslaw Dressing

We aren't huge coleslaw eaters at our house.  In fact, I have only made coleslaw twice in my life.  But a few weeks ago my family was getting together for Sunday dinner and my mom was making bbq pork sandwiches, so naturally I felt like we needed some coleslaw to go with them.  I bought a big bag of shredded coleslaw mix at Sam's Club but couldn't find any dressing to go on it.  I figured that I could find a pretty easy recipe online so I started looking around and this is the result of that searching.  A combination of a few basic recipes.
1 cup mayo
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
a few shakes of lemon pepper
salt/pepper to taste

*Stir all ingredients together and mix in with your coleslaw right before serving.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

DIY ROTISSERIE CHICKEN







First off, holy cow did we have the rain here in AZ. I think I'm right by saying we got 90% of our annual rainfall in 8 hrs. Consequently, we had lots of folks with flooding and leaking roofs.  We had a little roof leak, but compared to some with 3-4 feet of water in their homes, I have nothing to complain about.  We are grateful for the rain - just wish it had been spread out over a few more months!!

This is my favorite go-to chicken these days.  I have bought a lot of rotisserie chickens in my life, but I always feel guilty because I feel like I waste so much of it.  Except for the breast, drumstick and thigh meat, most of it goes in the trash.  Doing these breasts and thighs yields more meat and less waste - IMY (I feel so smart - I just learned that means "in my opinion")!! The best part is you can do all dark meat or all white meat, or a mixture of both.  Make sure you buy bone-in, skin-on.  The skin and bones give much flavor and keep the meet moist and tender. Make as much or as little as you like and freeze what you don't use.

DIY ROTISSERIE CHICKEN
(not really rotisserie)

3-4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts or thighs, or mix
1 cube room temperature butter (not margarine)
chopped fresh rosemary (about 2 T)
coarse kosher salt
coarse black pepper


Heat oven to 450 and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Do not omit this step - you will thank me later! Much easier clean-up.  Generously spray the foil with cooking spray

Thoroughly wash and dry chicken breasts and/or thighs.  Pat as dry as you can with paper towels.

In a small bowl mix butter and rosemary well.  Loosen the skin from the chicken pieces and smear a generous amount of butter under the skin of the chicken. I do this with my hands.  Turn pieces over and smear butter on the bottom of the pieces also.  You want all the chicken to be coated in butter.  Generously season the tops and the bottoms of the buttered chicken with the salt and pepper.  Place the pieces on the cookie sheet and bake in the 450 oven for approx. 30 min.  Cooking at this high temperature will roast the chicken and seal in the moisture.  Remove, cool and slice or shred.  You can leave the crispy skin on, or remove it.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ORANGE RICOTTA COOKIES




I saw "this" recipe on Pinterest, but there were several of them, and they all were a little different. So - I experimented and combined and changed several of them and I think I came up with a keeper.  They have a light orange glaze and taste so light. These are soft (my favorite kind of cookie) and citrusy. I love ANYTHING orange. I'm sure you could do lemon as well - but orange is my favorite.  You could probably substitute sour cream for the ricotta too. I made them for a welcome home luncheon for a friend and they were a great "luncheon" cookie.  Not too big and not too small.

2 1/4 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
pinch of Kosher salt
1 1/2 c. sugar (the first time I made these I only used 1 cup -    not sweet enough - I added and extra 1/2 c.)
1 cube butter softened to room temperature (1/2 c.)
2 eggs
 8 oz. ricotta cheese (about 1 c. - drain any liquid/water)
1/2 t. vanilla
zest of one large orange

Glaze:
1/4 c. orange juice
1 t. orange zest
2 1/2-3 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Stir flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.  Set aside.  In mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter on high until fluffy - about 2 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time beating well after each.  Add ricotta cheese and orange zest. Mix well.  Add flour mixture and mix just until combined - do not overmix.
Using a tablespoon cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop on cookie sheet 2 inches apart.  Bake 15-20 min until puffed and barely lightly browned at the edges.  Do not overbake.  Remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack and cool completely before glazing.

Whisk powdered sugar, orange juice and orange zest into a smooth glaze.  Add more powdered sugar if needed- but glaze should be thin enough to dip cookie into.  Dip tops of cookies completely (don't dunk - just tops) into glaze and place on a rack to drain and dry.  Allow to dry and set for 2 hrs before storing or serving.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

RIGATONI w/MINI-MEATBALLS AND PINK SAUCE



I love pasta - of almost any kind! And I love "pink sauce" the most!  Husband - not so much, but he loved this! That's huge at our house! Picky-eater-of-the-pickiest-kind!! I adapted this recipe from another recipe my good friend Loni gave me. Her sauce was made with ricotta and husband doesn't like the texture - remember I said he was picky?  If you don't want to make your own meatballs, I suppose you could use the frozen ones that are already cooked from Costco, but those kinda freak me out. Not my favorite.  If you like them, it's completely ok!! I like making these because you don't have to fry - just bake. So much easier!! Please excuse the photography - I'm horrible at it!! 

In a large pot bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add 1 lb. Rigatoni noodls and cook to al dente. Drain and set aside.  Do not rinse - the sauce will coat the noodles better if you don't.



MEATBALLS
1/4 c. Italian style bread crumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 T. milk
3/4 grated Romano cheese
1/4 c. chopped flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley)
a little salt and black pepper
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground sausage (you can use Italian sweet if you want,    or omit the sausage and use 2 lb. ground beef. I like the        mixed)
Mix all ingredients well with your hands or a large spoon, being careful to not overwork the meat. It makes the meatballs tough. I like to make them mini so I scoop them with a melon-baller for the perfect size. You can make larger if you want - just bake them a little longer.  Lay them on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes - just until done.  If they are a little underdone that's ok.  They will continue to cook when you bake the pasta.  Remove from tray with a slotted spoon and set aside.
**This makes A LOT of mini-meatballs.  I usually spread half of the cooked meatballs on a cookie sheet and freeze. When they're frozen, remove them from the cookie sheet and place in a Ziplock freezer bag to use another time. No need to thaw - just put them in whatever dish you're making to bake.

Heat oven to 350.

In a small sauce pan heat 1 pint of heavy whipping cream just to simmering. Do not boil.  When simmering, stir in 6 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese with a wire whisk and stir until smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a very large bowl, mix 48 oz of your favorite Marinara or red sauce with the Parmesan, cream sauce. This makes your pink sauce.  Stir in cooked Rigatoni noodles and the meatballs.  Spread in a 9x13 baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray.  

Cover the top of the noodles with 2 cups of shredded mozarella mixed with 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.  I like to let the cheese get a little brown on top.  Serve with a nice green salad and some crusty garlic bread.



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