Monday, January 30, 2012

The World's Best Beef Stew

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This stew is so good and so hearty, it’s simple comfort food at it’s best. I’ve made this same recipe for more years than I care to remember, and it always turns out perfectly.

2 lbs. stew meat

1 large onion, diced

1 large can crushed tomatoes

1 box beef broth

16 oz. bag of baby carrots, cut in half on the diagonal

4-5 large cubed potatoes, preferably yukon gold

1 bag frozen peas

salt and pepper

optional: a bottle of red wine instead of the beef broth (cabernet sauvignon works well)

Put the stew meat, onion, crushed tomatoes, and beef broth in a large oven proof casserole, salt and pepper to taste. You can brown the beef if you like, I usually don’t. Bake, covered, in a preheated 350° oven for two and a half hours.

Put on top of stove, add carrots and simmer fifteen minutes. Then add cubed potatoes and simmer an additional 20-30 minutes, checking for doneness so they don’t get mushy. At the end of cooking time, pour in the bag of peas, turn off the heat, taste to correct seasonings and sit aside. So easy to make and better the next day.

Optional: We like stew made with red wine, so I sometimes substitute the wine for the beef broth.

Note: When you take the stew out of the oven, if you need more liquid, add another cup or so of beef broth before you add the carrots. Mine is usually thick enough that I don’t need to add a thickening agent, but if you want your liquid thicker, after the veggies are cooked, mix up a slurry of 1/4 cup cornstarch in 1/2 cup water, and add it until you get the consistency you like.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pillsbury Bake Off Winners Chili Dog Boats Appetizers

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It’s that time of year again, and we’re all looking for Super Bowl Party appetizers. This winning recipe for Chili Dogs is easy to make and extremely guy friendly.

INGREDIENTS:

1 can (12 oz) Pillsbury® Grands!® Jr. Golden Layers® refrigerated biscuits

10 cocktail-size hot dogs

1/3 cup chili without beans

1/4 cup finely chopped onion (1/2 medium)

1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (1 oz)

1 egg

1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat oven to 400°F. Separate dough into 10 biscuits; press or roll each into 4-inch round. Place hot dog in center of each biscuit round. Top each with about 1 teaspoon each of chili, onion and cheese.
  • Bring sides of dough up to center, forming half circles that stand up. Brush edges of dough with water; pinch edges tightly to seal (as dough bakes, edges will open forming a boat shape). Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  • In small bowl with fork, beat egg; stir in mustard. Brush mixture over top and sides of each filled biscuit.
  • Bake 9 to 13 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet; serve warm or cool.

Picture and Recipe Source: Pillsbury

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chicken and Waffles, don't forget the Tabasco!

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We had chicken and waffles for Christmas brunch this year and they were amazing. My youngest son and his wife, Ryan and Lindsay, are huge fans, and they thought it would be great to have a southern Christmas meal.

He used Ina Garten’s recipe for Oven Fried Chicken which was so good and so easy. You just brown your chicken, and finish cooking it in the oven on a rack, it was so crispy, you would never have known it was cooked in the oven.

The waffle recipe was from King Arthur Flour,Classic Buttermilk Waffles, light, fluffy, the batter was extremely stiff, I thought it wasn’t going to work, but oh was I ever wrong, they ware the best waffles I’ve ever had. We made them at home this past month, and stored the leftovers in the fridge between sheets of waxed paper in a gallon sized baggie to reheat in the toaster. Super recipe.

To serve the chicken and waffles, you put them on the plate, pour on the maple syrup and then you top the syrup with a few shakes of Tabasco. I was really hesitant, as I’m a hot sauce lover, but not on syrup, and Tabasco would never be my hot sauce of choice, but the combination of salty/sweet/vinegar/hot was perfect.

If you’re looking for something different for brunch, give this a try. You will be talking about it for weeks afterward, it’s that good.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Alton Brown’s Cocoa Brownies Video

Ingredients

  • Soft butter, for greasing the pan
  • Flour, for dusting the buttered pan
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, sifted
  • 8 ounces melted butter
  • 11/4 cups cocoa, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.
In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add both sugars. Add remaining ingredients, and mix to combine.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. When it's done, remove to a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it's mostly cool.

SERVINGS: 16 (PER BROWNIE); Calories: 243; Total Fat: 13 grams; Saturated Fat: 8 grams; Protein: 3 grams; Total carbohydrates: 28 grams; Sugar: 22 grams Fiber: 1 grams; Cholesterol: 83 milligrams; Sodium: 82 milligrams

Source:  Foodnetwork.com

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

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I’m such a fan of red beans and rice and have posted multiple recipes for it over the years.  This slow cooker version is perfect for a busy weekday.
Ingredients
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 pound dried red beans
  • 3/4 pound smoked turkey sausage, thinly sliced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • Hot cooked long-grain rice
  • Hot sauce (optional)
  • Garnish: finely chopped green onions, finely chopped red onion
Preparation
  1. 1. Combine first 8 ingredients and 7 cups water in a 4-qt. slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 7 hours or until beans are tender.
  2. 2. Serve red bean mixture with hot cooked rice, and, if desired, hot sauce. Garnish, if desired.
  3. Try These Twists!
  4. Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice: Substitute frozen meatless smoked sausage, thawed and thinly sliced, for turkey sausage.
  5. Per cup (with 1 cup rice): Calories 422; Fat 3.5g (sat 0.4g, mono 0.2g, poly 0.2g); Protein 21.5g; Carb 76.4g; Fiber 12.2g; Chol 0mg; Iron 6.1mg; Sodium 530mg; Calc 113mg
  6. Quick Skillet Red Beans and Rice: Substitute 2 (16-oz.) cans light kidney beans, drained and rinsed, for dried beans. Reduce Creole Seasoning to 2 tsp. Cook sausage and next 4 ingredients in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often, 5 minutes or until sausage browns. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Stir in 2 tsp. seasoning, beans, and 2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes. Serve with hot cooked rice and, if desired, hot sauce. Garnish, if desired. Makes 8 cups. Hands-on Time: 26 min., Total Time: 46 min.
  7. Per cup (with 1 cup rice): Calories 424; Fat 3.2g (sat 1.1g, mono 0.2g, poly 0.4g); Protein 17.2g; Carb 79.5g; Fiber 7.6g; Chol 25mg; Iron 4.3mg; Sodium 804mg; Calc 76mg
Tweak:  If it’s too soupy at end of cooking time, uncover and continue cooking in slow cooker for an hour and it will thicken.

Source:  Southern Living

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Best Jiffy Cornbread

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I added just a few ingredients and made a fantastic cornbread.  This picture was taken with my cellphone in a dining room with bad lighting, so the quality isn't good, but I wanted you to see what it looked like...

2 boxes Jiffy Cornbread mix
1 onion, diced finely
1/2 red pepper, diced finely
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and spray a 9” square pan with Pam.  Mix cornbread ingredients as directed on the box of Jiffy Mix, but take the butter, melt it in a skillet, and saute the onions and peppers until tender, then stir it all into the cornbread batter.

Pour half of the batter into the pan, top with the cup of sour cream, spreading all the way to the edges, sprinkle the cup or so of grated cheddar cheese on top of the sour cream, then pour the rest of the batter on top.

Bake 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown.  The middle with be soft, with the cheese and the sour ream, the rest will be cornbread consistency.

This is REALLY good and REALLY easy.  I would have also added a can of drained green  chiles, but I didn’t have any.  Next time…

bonappetitsmall

World’s BEST Corn Chowder

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I make the most amazing corn chowder, it’s adapted from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook from the 70’s.  It’s a big recipe, I never cut it down, leftovers are great, and you can give it to family and friends, it reheats beautifully, too.

5 large potatoes, cubed and cooked in salted water (do not overcook, this will only take about 10-15 minutes for them to cook).
8 cups milk (part half and half is awesome, whole milk is good, 2% milk is acceptable, but skim milk is not rich enough)
1 large onion,diced
1 lb. bacon
3/4 cup flour
2 cans cream style corn
1 bag frozen corn
shredded cheese, chopped scallions and crumbled bacon for garnish

While potatoes are cooking, saute bacon in large skillet.  Remove when crisp, drain on paper towels and crumble.

Put onions in bacon drippings and cook until tender.  Remove onions with slotted spoon and put 3/4 cup flour into drippings, stirring constantly.  I usually take this off the burner, as it thickens really quickly.  Then I stir in 2-3 cups of the milk, and put it back on the burner for a minute or so, whisking constantly.  Meanwhile put the remaining milk in the microwave and nuke it until it’s warm.  If you put cold milk into warm drippings, it can curdle, so always warm everything.  I warm the bag of frozen corn as well.

Put the 2 cans of cream style corn, the bag of warmed frozen corn in a large stockpot, add the onions, drain the cooked potatoes, add them, and I use a strainer to add the flour mixture to the ingredients in the crockpot, as you don’t want any lumps from the flour.  Add salt and pepper to taste, I usually add 1-2 teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon of pepper.  Heat until thick, but not boiling.

I served it with this great cornbread, quick and easy and delicious.

Bon-Appeti

Note:  The drippings from a pound of bacon is not too much, don’t decrease the amount of bacon grease, this is a really big recipe, and you need that much to flavor it.  I sometimes add 2-3 tablespoons of butter as well, if I’m making it with 2% milk to give it a richer flavor.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cooking with oil in an iron skillet, a blast from the past…

unnamedI remember back in the day when fried food was the norm in our house.  When the boys were young, I bought oil in gallon containers, and dumped several inches in a skillet to cook with.  Fried chicken, pork chops, potatoes, you name it, I fried it.  But today, I’m more enlightened, and would never do that.  We’ve all learned tricks to compensate for frying, my favorite being to pat dry chicken breasts or pork chops, then Pam a skillet, I use one with grill marks, brown it on top of the stove, flip it over, and immediately put it in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, uncovered.  When you take it out of the oven it looks and tastes like fried, but without the grease.

But back to my story.  In all those years of frying food, I always had a mess when I finished, my cooktop was greasy, and that was before smooth cooktops so it was a pain in the patootie to clean.  On the occasion that I do fry something these days, an egg,  bacon, etc., I’ve learned to never use a small skillet.  Even if I have just one egg, I fry it in a 14” skillet, that way it never spatters on the cooktop.  It’s a great tip, and no, I don’t put oil in the skillet, of course I fry that egg with Pam.  This morning I’m making corn chowder, and I needed bacon drippings, so I pulled out the big skillet, fried the bacon, with no mess.  It’s a beautiful thing, frying in an oversized skillet, took me years to figure it out, but better late than never.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tweaking that 3-2-1 cake

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Yesterday when I made the cake and gave hubby a bite, he wasn’t a fan, but I haven’t been married to the man for forty years not to know a thing or two about his food preferences.  He’ll eat pretty  much anything that has a sauce on it, so I decided to try making him a mini pineaple upside down cake, his favorite.  BUT, I didn’t have pineapple, so I tried it with peaches.

I put some peaches in the bottom of my mug, added some brown sugar, a dab of butter, a few sliced almonds and a dash of almond flavoring.  And whlie I was making a double batch of the cake, substituting peach juice for the water, I nuked the peach concoction for one minute.  I took it out, gave it a stir, put in the cake mixture that I had whisked on top of it and nuked it for an additional 1:35 minutes.

This time he loved it.  He said it was a 7-8.  I don’t know if I would give it that high of marks, but it’s fast, easy and a no brainer.  Just thought you would all like to know…

And yes, I know there are blue sprinkles in the cake.  That white confetti cake was the only one I had in the pantry.  Sometimes you just gotta roll with what you’ve got.  Know what I mean, Vern?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

World’s Best Famous Chili Cheese Queso Dip


This could be award winning dip, it’s so good.  And so simple to make, this is a winner!  My family made this at Christmas with the new Velveeta White Cheese, and it was devoured within minutes.

1 2 lb. block of Velveeta White Cheese, cut into chunks
1 lb. Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage
1 can Rotel Tomatoes
1 can green chiles

Brown sausage, drain, and put in saucepan with remaining ingredients.  Cook, stirring constantly until cheese melts and ingredients are hot.  Put in mini crockpot to keep warm and serve with tortilla chips, raw veggies, crostini, or our favorite, Fritos Scoops.

Your family will love this!



Chocolate-Peanut Blowout Cookies

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Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter or regular butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts
3/4 cup coarsely chopped bite-size chocolate-covered peanut butter cups (about 15)*

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add the sugars, baking soda and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of the bowl occasionally.

2. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla. Using the mixer, beat in as much of the flour as you can. Stir in remaining flour by hand. Stir in the chocolate pieces, peanuts and peanut butter cups.

3. Drop by generously rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake the cookies in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 30 cookies.

If you like, for easier chopping, freeze miniature chocolate-covered peanut butter cups in their wrappers for 1 hour. Remove frozen candies from wrappers before chopping.

Source:  Midwest Living

3-2-1 Cake

Two ingredients, angel food cake mix and any kind of cake mix.  Put them in a bag together, shake well, scoop out 3 tablespoons of the mix, add 2 tablespoons of water, then put it in a ramekin and nuke it for 1 minute.  The recipe didn’t say whether or not to spray with Pam, but I did because I didn’t want a mess. 

Ha, you can see how well that worked for me.  But, if I wasn’t Miz Piggy it would have been fine.  I made it, nuked it, and it was just this itty bitty amount of cake in the bottom of the ramekin.  So I doubled the recipe, at least I think I did, I was talking to my friend, Nisha on the phone while I was making this and since yours truly can’t chew bubble gum and walk at the same time, who knows what I did.  All I know is that it started to run over in the microwave so I quickly put a saucer under it and finished cooking it.  It took about a minute and a half for the larger batch, but remember, I have the microwave from hell, so my timing is never accurate.

photo (1)And how did it taste, curious minds want to know?  Well, all I had was a confetti cake mix to mix with my angel food cake mix, so it’s kinda vanilla tasting.  But it’s not bad, but I’m also desperate.  I don’t have anything in the house that isn’t healthy, and this is the only thing I could come up with fast that didn’t involve actual work.

Would I do it again.  Sure, I would.  If this was topped with a sliced banana, a drizzle of chocolate sauce, or some fresh fruit, or my dilly’s favorite, lemon sauce, it would be pretty good for a quickie.  A bit of almond flavoring would be nice, too.

But I think I would like it better using a chocolate cake mix.  Or I could just stir some chocolate chips or cocoa into this.  It’s not knock-your-socks off people, but it’s not too bad considering that it only takes 1-2 minutes start to finish.  Except for the mess…. Ughhh!!


Tweaks: I made this again, doubled the recipe, put it in a mug, did NOT Pam it, nuked it for 1:30 and it came out perfect.