Monday, April 30, 2012

Beef Goulash

I adapted this recipe for Beef Goulash from Cook's Illustrated "The Best Recipe" cookbook. It was very tasty and all three kids gave it a thumbs up! Do not skimp on the sour cream! It totally added another layer of flavor to the dish. I served the goulash over egg noodles with Fluffy Biscuits (click for recipe) on the side. Enjoy!

1 to 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, fat trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped coarse
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbl paprika
1 1/2 Tbl flour
1/2 cup red wine
1 c. chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 Tbl parsley leaves, minced (or 1 Tbl dried parsley)
sour cream (a nice sized dollop on each plate)

Heat oven to 250F

Place beef cubes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Fry bacon in a large ovenproof pan over medium heat until golden brown. Remove bacon and set aside. Drain excess bacon grease, reserving 1 Tbl bacon grease in pan. Add meat to bacon grease in pan and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove meat and set aside.

Add onions and red bell pepper to the pan and saute until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 30 seconds. Stir in paprika and flour and cook until lightly colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits that may have stuck to pan. Add stock, bay leaf and thyme, and bring to a simmer.  Return meat and bacon bits to pan and bring to a simmer. Cover and place pan in the oven. Cook for 1 hour.

Remove pan from oven and add sliced carrots. Give a good stir. Cover again and return pan to oven. Cook just until meat is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove pan from oven.

Stir in parsley, discard bay leaf and add any additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve goulash over egg noodles. Place a nice sized dollop of sour cream on top of each plate (about 2 Tbl). Serve with good bread or biscuits. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fluffy Biscuits

The recipes comes from the Cook's Illustrated Best Recipe cookbook. These biscuits are exactly as the name implies - fluffy! I actually said aloud, "Wow, these are so fluffy!" when I bit into one! They are delicious and had my kids begging for more (with honey on it!!!)...This is a simple, no frills recipe that produces perfect, buttery biscuits! Enjoy with soups, chilli, or for sandwiches.

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. plain cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbl (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3/4 c. cold buttermilk (a tablespoon or two extra might be necessary if biscuit dough is too dry)
2 Tbl butter, melted (for brushing on biscuit tops right before cooking)

Preheat oven to 450F with oven rack adjusted to the middle position.

Mix or pulse flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl or the workbowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade. With your fingertips, or a pastry blender, or the steel blade of the food processor, mix, cut or process butter into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps. (FYI, I did it all by wasn't that time consuming...a little messy, yes...but, easy enough!)

If making by hand, stir in buttermilk with a rubber spatula or fork until mixture forms into a soft, slightly sticky ball. If dough feels firm and dry bits are not gathering into a ball, sprinkle dough clumps with an additional tablespoon of buttermilk. Be careful not to overmix. If using food processor, pulse until dough gathers into moist clumps. Remove from food processor bowl and form into rough ball.

With lightly floured hands, divide dough into 12 equal portions, Lightly pat a portion of dough back and forth a few times between floured hands until it begins to form a ball, then pat lightly with cupped hands to form a rough ball. Repeat with remaining dough, placing formed dough rounds 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush dough tops with melted butter. Bake until biscuit tops are light brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately. These are SO good with honey!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Middle Eastern Stuffed Bell Peppers

I adapted this recipe from America's Test Kitchen's Perfect Vegetables cookbook. These stuffed peppers are relatively easy to make, yet they have a lot of "I-slaved-all-day-preparing-these" presence sitting on the plate! My husband absolutely loves this recipe and thinks it's a big deal when I serve them! I have to admit, I like all the kudos I get when I make these! Ha! You can easily double the recipe to serve for guests or to make enough for your kids (however, as much as I'd like to say all my kids love these, they don't...only one out of three gives it a thumbs up- I think the flavors are a little too complex for most kids' palates).  Serve with a simple side salad and naan bread if you like!

2 medium red bell peppers (when buying the bell peppers make sure that they have flat bottoms and can "stand" up on their own)
1 Tbl olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
6 ounces lean ground beef (you can also use ground lamb)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbl currants (if you cannot find currants, raisins will do, however, you might want to chop the raisins first because they are about double the size of currants)*
1 cup of canned crushed tomatoes
1 c. COOKED long grain brown or white rice
1/3 c. crumbled Feta cheese
1 - 2 Tbl fresh cilantro, chopped
3 Tbl roasted & salted cashews, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F

Cut about 1/2 inch off the tops of the bell peppers. Discard the core and the seeds. You can keep the tops - they look pretty placed on top when serving. Place the bell peppers in an oven safe dish and cook at 350F for 15 minutes. If you notice any liquid at the bottom of the peppers when you remove them from the oven just dump it out. Return peppers to the dish cut side up.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the beef (or lamb), cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, and cayenne pepper. Cook, breaking up the beef into small pieces until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger and currents and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Take pan off heat and add tomatoes, rice, Feta and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste (I use roughly 3/4 tsp salt- but, remember that Feta is salty- and you can always add salt, but, not take it away- so, do this slowly).

Fill each bell pepper with beef mixture. You should be able to use almost all of the beef mixture between the two peppers. Sprinkle with cashews on top.

Cook at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately! Enjoy!

*Whenever I use currants or raisins in a recipe, I always soak them in very hot water for about five minutes to plump them up (drain excess water). This takes them from being hard and sticky to plump and moist.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll

Oh mercy, was this good! A very decadent desert, indeed! But I have to be honest- this is not for the novice baker. There were many steps- some tricky- but the end results were worth the time. (Btw, I didn't have parchment paper so I used buttered foil instead- it worked fine!) I found this on C&C Marriage Factory. Check out this blog - some really fantastic recipes!
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted (optional, for garnish)  
Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 15x10 inch jelly-roll pan then line with parchment paper. Leave the parchment paper long on two opposite ends for easy removal of the cake after baking. Butter the parchment, sprinkle it with flour and shake off excess.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in a large mixer bowl until thick. Add pumpkin and beat to combine. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Spread pumpkin mixture evenly into the prepared jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle with nuts (optional). 
Bake 13-15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Sprinkle or sift 1/4 cup powdered sugar evenly over top of cake. Place a piece of parchment over the cake. Flip the pan onto a smooth work surface so that the new parchment paper is beneath the cake. Remove the pan and carefully peel away the old parchment from the top of the cake. Starting at the narrow end, roll up the cake and parchment together. Place on to a wire rack, seam side down, to cool.
When cake is cooled, beat together cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Carefully unroll the cooled cake. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the cake. Re-roll, removing the parchment as you go. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Sift additional powdered sugar over cake before serving if desired. Cut off the ends to make it look pretty.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Glaze

My friend, Kristen, told me about this crazy yummy pork recipe posted on the blog C&C Marriage Factory. It was beyond simple to make (crock pot recipes are the best!). The end result was a moist, flavorful (thanks to the glaze!) tenderloin that was easily shredded with a fork. I served the pork with crusty bread and shredded brussel sprouts with bacon & walnuts (click for that recipe).  I will definitely make this again for a crowd. Serve on rolls for a delicious pulled pork sandwich!

1 (2 pound) boneless pork tenderloin (or regular pork loin)
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mustard-Roasted Red Potatoes

Another Barefoot Contessa recipe. These potatoes are a snap to prepare. They are roasted at a high heat which yields a crispy, but tender potato. They would make a fabulous addition to any meal! Enjoy!

2 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
2 yellow onions
3 Tbl olive oil
2 Tbl whole-grain mustard
kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used about 2 Tbl dried parsley- tasted great!)

Preheat oven to 425F

Cut the potatoes in halves or quarters, depending on their size, and place them on a foil lined sheet pan. Remove the ends of the onions, peel them, and cut them in half. Slice them crosswise in 1/4 inch thick slices to make half rounds. Toss the onions and potatoes together on a the sheet pan. Add the olive oil, mustard, 2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and toss them together. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the potatoes are lightly browned on the outside and tender on the inside. Toss the potatoes from time to time with a metal spatula so they brown evenly while cooking.

Serve hot sprinkled with the chopped parsley and a little extra salt (if needed). 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Okay, I'm gonna flat out say this may quite possible be the best thing I have ever baked (or at least top 5!). It is a Barefoot Contessa recipe and it is out of this world! The balance of sweet and sour (from all the fresh lemon juice) is absolutely perfect! This cake is light, refreshing and definitely satisfies your sweet tooth! Perfect for brunch or dessert! I'm giving it 5 stars! Hope you try it!!

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 c. plain whole milk yogurt
1 c. sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. vegetable oil

1st Glaze:
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used 2 1/2 lemons)

2nd Glaze:
1 c. confectioners' sugar
2 Tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice
(I needed a tiny bit of water just to thin the glaze out a bit)

Preheat oven to 350F

Grease AND flour a loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together yogurt, 1 c. sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it is thoroughly incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

For the 1st glaze:
Meanwhile, cook 1/3 c. lemon juice and 1/3 c. sugar in a small sauce pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

For the 2nd glaze:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice with a whisk or a fork. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove cake onto a baking rack over aluminum foil (to catch all the drips). While the cake is still warm, gently (and slowly) pour the lemon-sugar mixture (1st glaze) over the cake and allow it to soak in. Once cake is cool (give it 20 minutes or so) gently (and slowly) pour the confectioners' sugar-lemon mixture (2nd glaze) over the top. Serve with strawberries if desired! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Bunny Hot Rods

Vroom, Vroom! Here comes the Easter Bunny! Your kids will go crazy for this very cute Easter snack/craft! Fun to make and fun to eat! This "recipe" makes 24 hot rods. Happy Easter!

2 packages of Peep bunnies
2 packages of gummi PeachieOs
24 life savers (1 bag of individually wrapped life savers will yield enough)
1 Betty Crocker cookie icing (you could always make your own icing and pipe it - but, why bother, this is SO easy!!)
4 rolls of Sprees
24 Swiss rolls (2 packages of 12 rolls)

Here are all the ingredients you will need to make the hot rods

Swiss Rolls

Use the icing to add the Sprees "wheels" to the rolls

Use the icing to add the life saver "steering wheels"

Cut the bottom off the PeachieOs to make a horseshoe shape. This will be the "seat" on the hot rod.
Use the icing to stick the PeachieO to the back of the bunny Peep

Use icing to adhere the Peeps to the hot rods. You will need quite a bit of icing for the bunny. Don't fret, though -  that one little pouch of icing really will stretch - in fact, I had icing left over!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Shredded Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Walnuts

I am STILL having a love affair with brussel sprouts....and this is my new MOST FAVORITE brussel sprouts recipe EVER! Yum, oh yum, yum, yummy!! I have made these every week for the last month and I still want more! Please try this recipe I snagged off of the blog Pinch My Salt. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon walnut oil (I use olive oil)
4 slices thick cut bacon
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded (you can use the shredding blade on your food processor - I just use a knife!)
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
kosher salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, and oil; set aside.  In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon, cut or crumble into pieces, and set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of drippings in pan (if there aren’t enough drippings to equal 2 tbsp, add a little butter or oil).  Heat drippings over medium-high then add shredded brussels sprouts.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just tender.  Remove from heat and stir in bacon, walnuts, and dressing.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm.