Beef Daube Provencal

It’s stew time.  That time of the year when it is cold outside, and you want to eat something comforting.  I love the aroma that stew gives your home – I go to bed at night still smelling the stew that was in the oven hours earlier.  I have so many different varieties of stews – and each one serves a different purpose. 

I already posted my mother’s version of Beef Stew, which is a delicious one bowl meal.  Beef Daube is a classic French stew made with cubed beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence. Like my mother’s recipe, I used white wine instead of red, which gives it a lighter sweeter flavor.  This recipe that I found in Cooking Light is perfect over a bowl of egg noodles – I modified the recipe slightly to make the sauce just a little thicker but still thin enough that it can go over a starch.  It would also be delicious over a bowl of mashed potatoes.  Just wait, if you are not interested in this stew, there will be many more posted in the coming months…

Ingredients

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 12  garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1  (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  salt, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1  cup  white wine
  • 2  cups  chopped carrot
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped onion
  • 1/2  cup  less-sodium beef broth
  • 1  tablespoon  tomato paste
  • 1  teaspoon  chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1  teaspoon  chopped fresh thyme
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 1  (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1  bay leaf

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300°.

Heat oil in a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tablespoon of flour. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add garlic, beef, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrot, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf), and bring to a boil.

Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles.

Note: To make in a slow cooker, prepare through Step 2. Place beef mixture in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here: Beef Daube Provencal

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Blueberry Oat Scones

I remember when scones were not popular – this was before Starbucks existed.  I had them when I was travelling in the United Kingdom, and couldn’t believe we didn’t have them in the United States.  They were so dense, and not overly sweet – but perfect with coffee.  To me, they were almost like a biscuit, but better.  Then somehow they hit it big in the US – and now every coffee shop is not complete unless they have at least one scone for you to choose.  I have made a lot of scones, and I must say, I love them all.  I saw this recipe, and I decided to make them because the recipe called for half and half instead of heavy cream.  In Seattle, there happens to be a bakery that sells, in my opinion, the best scones ever – and you can taste the heavy cream in every bite.  I had to find out if half and half could compete – and I must say these are delicious.  This recipe comes from Molly Wizenberg (one of my Seattle Food Blog inspirations) and was printed in Bon Appetit.  The inspiration for her was a bakery in Portland, ME – if I am ever in that area, I will definitely find the Standard Baking Company to try their scones.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (not thawed) (about 5 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 3/4 cups chilled half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 teaspoons raw (or turbinado) sugar

Preparation

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and pre-heat to 350°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and coarse salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter. Using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add 1 cup oats and blueberries; stir to blend evenly.

Stir half and half and vanilla in small bowl. Gradually add to flour mixture, tossing until dough just comes together (dough will be very moist).

Using 1/2-cup measuring cup for each scone, drop dough in mounds onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Sprinkle tops with remaining 3 tablespoons oats, then raw sugar.

Bake 15 minutes. Reverse sheets and continue baking until scones are golden and tester inserted into center from side comes out clean, about 12 minutes longer. Transfer scones to rack and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here: Blueberry Oat Scones

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Ants Climbing on Branches

Is anyone as holidayed (I just made up a word!) out as me?  I made this a couple of weeks ago, but have been behind on posting – something that the holidays can do.  I am hoping that two weeks off from work can get me back on track…in any event – I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday!

When I was growing up, my most favorite home cooked meal was Chinese Dumplings and Ants Climbing on Trees (ground pork with thin noodles).  I would often ask for this meal for my birthday dinner.  When I grew up, I made this for my friends, and it was always a huge hit.  So, the other night when I made this dish – which in my mind was very similar to my childhood favorite except that the noodles were substituted with the green beans – it was just as good as I remember.  We had to come up with a different name – and we felt like the green beans looked like branches – therefore the name.  I found this recipe in Cooking Light - but heavily adapted it below to be more like the one I remember.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4  pounds  green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4  teaspoons  peanut oil
  • 1  tablespoon  minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1  tablespoon  minced fresh garlic
  • 1  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 1/2  pound  lean ground pork
  • 1/3  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  cornstarch
  • 1/3  cup  thinly sliced green onions

Preparation

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic, and pepper; sauté 30 seconds. Add pork to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add beans; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar and cornstarch; stir with a whisk. Stir broth mixture into pork mixture; cook 1 minute or until thickened. Add green ovens and cook for one more minute.  Serve over steamed rice.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here: Ants Climbing on Branches

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Devil Dog Cake

Devil Dogs…yum.  You know from my Pumpkin Snack Cake post that I have a little thing for snack cakes.  Ok, maybe more than a little thing.  Put it this way – if I see a recipe for something that resembles a snack cake – let along called a Devil Dog Cake – there is no way I can pass it up.  For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about, I learned this week that Devil Dogs are an east coast thing… so see the link below.

This is actually the second time I have made this cake – the first time I brought it to my daughter’s school picnic.  I decided that since there would be a lot of kids there, I would make this into bit sized treats.  Basically I made them look exactly like this by spliting the cake in half horizontally.  They were a huge hit.  There was a very long table completely packed with desserts and the devil dog bites were gone first.

Ok – so what prompted me to make this cake again?  Besides the fact that everyone loved this cake – it was my good friend’s 40th birthday – and she was having a Keraoke party – she loves chocolate, and I figured this would be the perfect retro-cake to go with the venue.  The marshmallow frosting is to die for.  It is not a sweet frosting, and goes with the moist chocolate cake perfectly – both are pretty mellow, which for my sweet tooth is perfect.  Next time I am taking a blow torch to the top, instead of sprinkling cocoa powder on top – that would definitely make a statement.  This recipe comes from Gourmet – and I followed it exactly as written.

Ingredients

For cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process) plus additional for dusting
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups water

For frosting

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour an 8-inch square cake pan (2 inches deep).

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well, then beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture and water alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined.

Pour batter into cake pan and smooth top, then bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 1 hour. Transfer cake to a cake plate.

Make frosting:
Combine frosting ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Mound frosting on top of cake. Dust with additional cocoa powder.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Devil Dog Cake

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Fennel Slaw with Orange Vinaigrette

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – and because of my obsession with fennel, I had to make it.  The only problem was that I do not have a mandoline.  So, after doing some reasearch online – I decided I would go to the store and buy one.  I cook enough, I should probably just have one, as I was justifying the expense.  I was just about to leave, when my mother called – and convinced me not to bother.  She has one – top of the line – and she said it is hard to use and wouldn’t spend the money.  So I settled on my back-up plan – using a good vegetable peeler – and it worked great.  You can see by the picture, the fennel was definitely shaved thin – and the salad was terrific.  So don’t worry if you don’t have a mandoline – a good old-fashioned vegetable peeler will do just fine.

Ingredients

  • 1/4  cup  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  tablespoon  sherry vinegar
  • 1  teaspoon  grated orange rind
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  fresh orange juice
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 3  medium fennel bulbs with stalks (about 4 pounds)
  • 2  cups  orange sections (about 2 large oranges)
  • 1/2  cup  coarsely chopped pitted green olives

Preparation

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.

Trim tough outer leaves from fennel; mince feathery fronds to measure 1 cup. Remove and discard stalks. Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise; discard core. Thinly slice bulbs. Add fronds, fennel slices, and orange sections to bowl; toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with olives.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Fennel Slaw with Orange Vinaigrette

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Rocky Rods

I started making these a few years ago because my daughter loves sprinkles, and I thought this would be fun and easy to make around the holidays.  The first year we just dipped them in chocolate, and then I let her go nuts with the sprinkles.  The second year, I found an amazing hole-in-the-wall cake/candy store, where you can buy big hunks of caramel.  It is basically like buying a giant one of these.  I sliced the caramel very thin, and then wrapped a piece around the top of a pretzel rod, very carefully.  Then, I dipped them in chocolate and let her go nuts with the sprinkles.  They were amazing!!!  Now my friends and neighbors feel like they have to remind me that they are looking forward to the pretzel rods every year – just so I am sure to make them.

I cannot take credit for the name – my sister-in-law was experimenting with pretzel snacks in one of her early jobs as a food consultant – and she created this name – I loved it.  Thanks for letting me use it!

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Pretzel Rods
  • 1 lb. caramel in a big square
  • 1 lb. chocolate
  • assorted sprinkles

Preparation

Slice the caramel very thinly – if you can’t get it thin – try rolling it out afterwards with a rolling pin.  Wrap it around the top part of the pretzel rod.  Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, or using the microwave in 30 second intervals – stirring well after each one.  Dip the pretzels into the melted chocolate – you may need to use a spoon to make sure that the chocolate covers the caramel.  Place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Decorate with sprinkles quickly before the chocolate melts.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here: Rocky Rods

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Tamale Pie

 

Every so often life gets a little out of control.  Ok, maybe a little more than every so often – but especially around the holidays.  This time of year we try to do everything – and it gets a little overwhelming.  I am trying to keep my head above the water – but it is not easy.  This recipe makes life just a little easier though when you are looking to feed a large group of people.  Most of the tamale pies or tamale casseroles that I see out there seem to have a cornbread crust – which is fine sometimes, but I like the more traditional corn flavor that is not sweet.  This is why I love this recipe – the topping is polenta – the texture and taste is perfect with the filling.  It is as close as a real tamale without all the work.  If you don’t eat beef, you can make this with ground turkey or ground chicken and it will taste just as good.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb. leanest ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes in thick puree
  • 2 cups corn kernels (fresh, frozen and thawed, or canned and drained)
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Make the polenta topping:  In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the polenta with the chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef, onion, bell peppers, and garlic, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.   Stir in seasonings, tomatoes, and corn and simmer about 5 minutes.

In a 9×13 inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray or oil, place meat and vegetable mixture.  Spread polenta topping over the mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake uncovered, until bubbly and cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

For a printer-friendly recipe, please click here: Tamale Pie

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Chocolate Buttons

This time of year I am always looking for little treats that I can give with holiday cards to my neighbors, teachers, friends at work, the list is endless.  My standby is the caramel chocolate covered pretzel rods – as my sister-in-law once coined, “Rocky Rods.”  You will see that post soon – but I didn’t have time this weekend to make those – so instead we went for the quick fix – the chocolate buttons.  These are so great because they are so simple – and kids of all ages can help you.  We had an assembly line going – my youngest daughter was peeling the papers off of the Hershey’s Kisses, my older daughter was arranging pretzels on the cookie sheet then placing the kisses in the center – and I was taking the buttons out of the oven and placing an M&M in the center.  It was teamwork at its best – and everyone was occupied.

I got this recipe from my mother – and she probably saw it on the internet somewhere.  Obviously the combinations are endless with the varieties of Hershey’s Kisses and M&Ms out there – this year I went with the Peanut Butter M&M’s, and I will probably stick with that for a while – the combination was perfect.

Ingredients

  • Snyder’s  Snaps – Pretzels
  • Hershey’s Kisses
  • Peanut Butter M&Ms

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.  Place pretzels on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.  Place a Hershey’s Kiss on top of each pretzel.  Bake in the over for 5-8 minutes – the kisses should be melted all the way through, but still in its original shape.  You can test to see if they are ready by taking an M&M and placing it in the center and pushing down.  If you can push down easily all the way, they are done.  Otherwise, put them back in the oven until ready.  Take them out and push an M&M inside the center of each kiss and press down.  Let them cool on the cookie sheet until hard.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Chocolate Buttons

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Mexican Chocolate Cookies

Yes, it is cookie time.  Although, when is it really not cookie time?  I just love this time of year though because there are cookie recipes every where you look.  I am always looking for cookies I have not made before until my family insists on the good old-fashioned chocolate-chip version (that post will come eventually).  I saw this recipe and knew it would be a hit.  The cookies were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside – the best of both worlds.  The rich chocolate flavor combined with a hint of spice was really something.  And because the recipe came from Cooking Light, I felt like I could eat twice as many…

The dough is very stiff – so to make perfect rounds, I used a miniature ice-cream scoop.  If you do not have one for cookies, I highly suggest it.  It makes the job much easier – and the shape of the cookies come out perfect.  I have a couple different sizes depending on how big I want the cookies.

Ingredients

  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 3.4 oz. all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  • Dash of ground red pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chocolate in a small glass bowl; microwave at HIGH for 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth.  If not smooth, microwave for 30 seconds and stir again.  Cool to room temperature.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.  Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through ground red pepper); stir well with a whisk.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended.  Add egg, and beat well.  Add chocolate and vanilla; beat just until blended.  Add flour mixture; beat just until blended.

Drop dough by level tablespoons 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until almost set.  Remove from oven.  Cool on pans 2 minutes or until set.  Remove from pans; cool on a wire rack.  Makes about 32 cookies.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Mexican Chocolate Cookies

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Spinach Bites

 

If you are a parent – have you ever tried to get your kids to eat their vegetables?  Better question, besides my sister-in-law, do any of your kids actually like to eat vegetables?  I was shocked to hear that my nephew loves Brussel sprouts, and will pretty much eat anything his mother makes him (ok, maybe it is because she is such a great cook, but still).  I consider myself a decent cook – and if I can get my girls to eat a vegetable, it is a very good day.  Years ago I found a recipe for these Spinach Bites – every time I would make them, they would be gone in an instant.  I decided to make them as an experiment – my older daughter has never liked spinach – but she helped me make these – and when they were ready – she ate 4!!  She loved them.

These are so easy to make, and are perfect to bring for a pot-luck, or as an appetizer for a dinner party.  I like them plain, but they are also very good dipped in a honey-mustard sauce.

I made these the easy way using some short-cuts based on what I had in the house, but you can definitely make these with all fresh ingredients.  Use 10 oz. of fresh spinach – first saute 1 cup of chopped onions until soft, add 2 cloves of garlic, then the chopped spinach and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Instead of prepared stuffing mix, use 2 cups of small dried bread cubes and substitute chicken broth for the water.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 cups prepared stuffing (like Stove Top)
  • 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 eggs, slight beaten
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix water and butter in a medium bowl.  Stir to melt butter.  Stir in stuffing, spinach, cheese, eggs and nutmeg.  Form into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until firm.  Serve with honey mustard if desired.  Makes about 3 dozen.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Spinach Bites

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