Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Crockpot Beef Stew with Dumplings

Crockpot Beef Stew with Dumplings
One of my most favorite things that my mom made as a kid was stew with dumplings. It wasn't the stew I loved, it was the dumplings. They were so good. I tolerated the stew in order to get more dumplings, I dipped the stew in ketchup in order to better suit my tastes. I bought a crockpot for the condo in Aspen because I figured it would be a useful tool in the winter. We can ski all day and come home to a nice, hot dinner. Miss F does not share my same love for dumplings, she much prefers the beef (no surprise there!) Which is fine by me, more dumplings for me! This stew is rich and hearty, I cannot wait to make it again once it is ski season. We had been playing in the snow all day, so this was the perfect meal to end the day. It turns out playing in the snow wears Miss F out as much as swimming, and makes her just as hungry. This recipe is adapted from The Magical Slow Cooker.
Crockpot Beef Stew with Dumplings

2 pounds stew beef
½ cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup red wine
14 ounce can beef broth
6 ounce can tomato paste
1 ½ pounds red potatoes,
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
½ pound button mushrooms, quartered
1 white onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups frozen peas

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme in a Ziplock bag. Seal, shake to combine, then add the stew meat. Shake to coat the pieces evenly. In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Brown the meat on all sides and add it to the crockpot.

Return the pan to the stove; de-glaze the pan with the red wine, scrape up any browned bits of meat and flour into the sauce. Whisk in the beef broth and tomato paste. Simmer for two minutes. Add the sauce to the crockpot. Add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and onions to the crockpot. Stir to combine. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Stir in the peas for the last 20 minutes of cooking.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, egg, milk and oil. Drop the dumplings by ¼ cup onto the top of the stew after you have stirred in the peas. Cover, turn heat to high and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until a tooth pick inserted into the dumpling comes out cleanly.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Brown Butter Doughnuts

Brown Butter Doughnuts
Miss F had Columbus Day off from school. We had big plans to visit the local pumpkin patch. She wants three pumpkins this year: a happy pumpkin, a scary pumpkin and a Mickey Mouse pumpkin. I am not sure how the Mickey Mouse pumpkin can be done, but I will do my best. Sadly, rain kept us out of the pumpkin patch, so we decided to bake doughnuts instead. Miss F loves doughnuts. She always likes to point out doughnut shops whenever we are out and about.  These doughnuts were fantastic, but the best thing about them was the chocolate glaze.  It is the only way I am going to cover doughnuts in chocolate going forward.  It is easy, tasty and no melting is needed.  Win!  Thanks to Joy the Baker for the great recipe. 
Brown Butter Baked Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze

For the Doughnuts:
1 cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Glaze:
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the doughnut pan with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, once the butter begins to brown and smells nutty, remove from the heat and pour into a small bowl. In a two cup measure, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and two tablespoons of the brown butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir until just incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared doughnut pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let the doughnuts cool on a wire rack.

Whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa, milk and vanilla until smooth. Dip each doughnut into the glaze and immediately top with sprinkles, if desired.
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Slow Baked Salmon with Lime Cream

Slow Baked Salmon with Lime Cream
Slow baked salmon was served at my wedding, that is how much I adore it (recipe here.) My friend Courtney had a dinner party for my birthday and prepared this amazing slow baked salmon. It was cooked on a bed of onions, which added this wonderful flavor to the fish. She prepares it with lemons, but I had a bunch of limes leftover from Key Lime Pie, so I decided to switch it up. It was equally good. And drumroll....Miss F tasted it AND liked it. I am so thrilled she finally tried fish and that it was my favorite fish, salmon. Courtney got the recipe from Steamy Kitchen, which provides a multitude of ways to prepare slow baked salmon.
Slow Baked Salmon with Lime Cream

1 onion, sliced
2 limes, one sliced and one juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ teaspoons cumin, divided
½ cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. While the oven is preheating, set the salmon out to come to room temperature. Arrange the onion slices and lime slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the salmon on top of the onion and limes. Brush each filet with oil. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of the cumin. Bake for 30 minutes.

Whisk together the sour cream, lime juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cumin and sugar together. Top the cooked salmon with the lime cream.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Soft Sandwich Bread

Soft Sandwich Bread
Now that I have started baking bread without my trusty bread machine, I cannot resist making bread once a week. I usually have a bit and send the rest to my parents. I think they have started to expect me to always show up with a half of loaf or so whenever I visit. Miss F and I shared a couple slices with butter, no need for any sandwich ingredients for us. In fact, when I was a kid, I usually took a butter sandwich in my lunch. Two slices of bread with butter spread between them. I don't eat cold cheese on a sandwich and I am not a huge lunchmeat fan. Maybe one day I should send a butter sandwich in Miss F's lunch. I know she would love it as much as I did.  Thanks so much to Hungry Hungry Highness for the great recipe.
Soft Sandwich Bread

1 ¼ cups hot water
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons honey
1 ½ teaspoons salt
3 ¼ cups + 2 tablespoons flour
2 ½ teaspoons yeast

Whisk together the water, oil, honey, and salt. Add ½ cup flour and the yeast. Mix until it's mostly incorporated. Add half the remaining flour and knead in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the remaining flour and knead for about 5 minutes.

Let the dough rise in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap for 30 minutes in a warm place. Place dough on a floured surface. Roll until a log 9 inches wide by about 30 inches long. Roll it up and place it in a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Let rise, covered, for 30 minutes in a warm place.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Sour Cream Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Sour Cream Cookies
I know kids' lunches nowadays are supposed to be full of only healthy items, but I cannot resist sending one cookie with Miss F in her lunch. I know my fellow moms from Miss F's class must have a somewhat similar take considering the amount of begging Miss F does for marshmallows in her lunch (everyone else has them!) It got this recipe from the fantastic Branny Boils Over. It fit all my cookie baking needs for a lunch box cookie: it doesn't make a ton, contains no nut products and can be made with my pantry ingredients. I have had this recipe pinned for awhile and I regret not making it sooner. The cookies are so soft and delicious.  This was the first time I ever let Miss F dish out all the cookies on the cookie sheets.  She did way better than I thought, yay for minimal mess.
Chocolate Sour Cream Cookies

½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, sour cream and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Recipe Swap: California Club Chopped Salad

California Chopped Salad
The theme of this month's swap was lunch. I usually have leftovers for lunch, so it was a treat to make something special just for lunch. Before I received this recipe in the swap, I had already pinned it to make. In fact, I had it on my meal plan one week and wasn't able to make it. Turned out to be a happy coincidence because I really loved this salad from the amazing Barbee Housewife. I was wary of the dressing, being that I am not a huge fan of mayonnaise, but it was fantastic. When I tossed the salad together, the avocado almost melted into the dressing, which was just lovely. Thanks so much to Taste of Home Cooking for hosting another great swap.
California Club Chopped Salad

6 slices bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
4 cups Romaine lettuce, washed and thinly sliced
½ pint grape tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles (I omitted)
1 avocado, diced
½ cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon, about 3 tablespoons (I used lime juice)
2/3 cup of mayonnaise

Cook the bacon in a sauté pan until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Cook the chicken pieces in the warm bacon grease over medium high heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the bacon, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, blue cheese, avocado, black beans and corn. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, and mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss the dressing with the salad.




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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie
Since childhood, my favorite dessert to order at a restaurant has always been Key Lime Pie. When I came to Houston to visit the University of Houston, we went out for a big seafood meal. I ended the evening with Key Lime Pie. And some allergic reactions. I thought it was the shrimp, but it turned out it was a reaction to pecans. My dad has allergic reactions to nuts as well, but I couldn't figure out where I had eaten any. Once I moved to Texas, I quickly realized 9 out of 10 restaurants add pecans to their Key Lime Pie's graham cracker crust. Besides eating my weight in stone crab at Joe's Stone Crab in Miami, I also knew I wanted some non-pecan tainted Key Lime Pie. And it was the best slice of pie I have ever eaten. I was so happy to see that Joe's Stone Crab shares their amazing pie recipe and I was even happier to learn that it was amazingly easy to make. I may have eaten all but one slice from the entire pie I made.   
Joe's Stone Crab Key Lime Pie

1 wax paper-wrapped package graham crackers (1/3 of a pound box)
or
1 cup, 2 ½ tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar

3 egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Whipped cream

For the graham cracker crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan. Break up the graham crackers; place in a food processor and process to crumbs. (If you don't have a food processor, place the crackers in a large plastic bag; seal and then crush the crackers with a rolling pin.) Add the melted butter and sugar and pulse or stir until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pie pan, forming a neat border around the edge. Bake the crust until set and golden, 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack; leave the oven on.

For the filling:
Meanwhile, in an electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks at high speed until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined, no longer. Pour the mixture into the crust. Bake for 10 minutes or until the filling has just set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve topped with whipped cream.
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
I saw frozen noodles on Pioneer Woman's show on The Food Network. They looked so much better than dried egg noodles and I knew I wanted to try them in something.  The noodles (Reames brand) were a bit tricky to find.  They were in the ethnic food part of my grocery freezer.  I can't wait to use them in other recipes, they were so amazing.  Miss F loved this recipe, of course she loved the chicken the most.  So we made a couple chicken for noodles trades during dinner.  How did I end up with a kid who isn't obsessed with carbs?
Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
inspired by Key Ingredient

¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk, divided
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon thyme
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
½ onion, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 pound chicken breasts
1 package frozen egg noodles (12 ounces)
½ cup half and half

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in flour; keep stirring until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and add 1 cup milk, a little at a time, stirring to keep smooth. Return to heat. Bring sauce to a gentle boil; cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens.

Whisk together the sauce, remaining 1 cup milk and chicken broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Add to the crockpot with the carrots, onion, celery and chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Remove the chicken and shred with two forks, return to the crockpot. Increase the heat to high, add the egg noodles and cook for one hour more. Stir in the half and half, serve.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Baja Fish Tacos

Baja Fish Tacos
I adore fish tacos. Fried or grilled, doesn't matter to me. I do get picky with the sauce though. I need it to have a good kick and I am generally prefer something with a sour cream base. I don't like plain sour cream on tacos, but mix it with lime and chipotle...winner.  Any mild white fish works great with this taco, I used red snapper since I can get it for under two bucks a pound.  Even Miss F liked the fish, though she had hers separate from the taco.  I have a giant bag of limes from Costco from making Key Lime Pie, this was a great way to use a couple up.  Miss F loves to squeeze the lime...even over her beans!
Baja Fish Tacos with Chipotle Crema
adapted from My Life as a Mrs

For the Chipotle Crema:
½ cup half and half
¼ cup sour cream
1 whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
½ lime, juiced
pinch of salt

For the Baja Fish Tacos:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound mild fish, I like red snapper
1 tablespoon Tony Chacheres
6-8 small corn or flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cabbage (I used a cole slaw bag, so it had some carrots as well)
1-2 limes, cut into wedges

For the Chipotle Crema:
Whisk together the half and half, sour cream, chipotle and lime juice. Salt to taste. Set aside.

For the Baja Fish Tacos:
Add butter and oil to a large non-stick skillet and heat over medium-medium high heat. Season the fish on both sides with the Tony Chacheres. Sauté the fish 2 to 4 minutes a side until cooked through.

Take a tortilla and add a small amount of the cabbage, squeeze a little lime over it (this helps flavor it a bit), then add the fish pieces. Top with a drizzle of chipotle crema and a squeeze of lime juice.
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Peanut Butter Cup Pie
I have such amazing friends, but with C in Aspen it is harder to meet the girls for a night out. So I decided to have the girls over one night after Miss F was asleep. And I decided to serve pie (and wine!) I made a blueberry pie, key lime pie and this beauty.  The filling is so rich, it is like eating a giant peanut butter cup, what could be better than that?  Miss F was my trusty pie baking assistant and she did an amazing job unwrapping the peanut butter cups and counting out Oreos.  She enjoyed a slice with a side of chocolate ice cream topped with whipped cream and candy corn.  C only wanted the blueberry pie (his favorite) because he thought a peanut butter pie sounded strange.  More pie for Miss F and I!
Peanut Butter Cup Pie
adapted from Martha Stewart

24 Oreo cookies
¼ cup butter, melted
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 ¼ cups smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
12 mini Reeses peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped

In a food processor, add the Oreo cookies and pulse until they are crumbs. Stir in the butter. Place the ground crumb mixture into a pie pan and press onto the bottom and up the sides evenly. Refrigerate for one hour.

Beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and salt with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in peanut butter and vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Whisk 1/3 of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream. Spoon filling into the crust. Top with the peanut butter cup pieces. Freeze, uncovered, at least 4 hours (or overnight, covered with plastic wrap).
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Crab Bisque

Crab Bisque
Last time we had steamed crabs Miss F actually tried some and enjoyed it!  She also really enjoyed this soup.  I love any and all kinds of bisque, rich and creamy soup is one of my most favorite foods.  I added a sprinkle of Old Bay to my bowl because it complements the crab so well.  I need to get Miss F to try crabcakes next, she is still quite wary of them and I am unsure why.  Maybe she would like them if they were in cute slider form or something.  I am just happy to have a fellow seafood fan in the house.  This recipe was inspired by Susannah's Kitchen.
Crab Bisque

3 tablespoons butter
½ onion, minced
1 pound crab, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup white wine
1 ½ cups seafood or chicken stock
2 cups of cream

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and ¼ cup of the crab; cook until tender, about three minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 second more. and let everything cook until tender. Whisk in the flour for a minute. Add the wine and stock; whisk until you have a smooth broth. With an immersion blender, puree this mixture until you have a smooth texture. Add the remaining crab and cream, heat through. Salt and pepper to taste, serve.
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Friday, October 4, 2013

Seared Tuna with Sesame Cucumber Salad

Seared Tuna with Sesame Cucumber Salad
When Miss F is in school, I often eat leftovers for lunch, especially now that C is not home during to eat any leftovers with me during the week. But that can get old quickly. Most fish cooks up amazingly fast, but nothing is as fast as seared tuna.  I am semi-obsessed with cucumber salad and since the cucumber plants were the one thing that survived in the garden this summer, this dish was destiny.  The whole thing takes less than 10 minutes to make, which is certainly faster than any drive thru lunch option and about 100 times better tasting. And a shout out to my friend Harmony: I need more tuna!
Seared Tuna with Sesame Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon Sriracha
pinch of sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tuna steaks

Slice cucumber thinly, preferably with a mandolin. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet until golden brown. Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and Sriracha. Toss the cucumbers with the dressing and sesame seeds. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the tuna a minute or two per side. Plate and top each steak with the cucumber salad.
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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Cajun Chicken Pasta
C hates tomatoes. Hates. Miss F has decided that she likes tomatoes. So I decided to attempt this dish, knowing Miss F would love it. I figured C would pick out the tomatoes, as he normally would.  He didn't.  He ate every bite.  And then he tried to figure out a way to take the leftovers on the plane home with him.  It turns out to be a good thing I didn't send him with any since the Aspen leg of his flight was cancelled and he had to spend the night in Denver.  But I may work on a way to send him home with food when he flies direct.  Maybe I will even add a tomato salad.  I heavily adapted this recipe from Kaitlin in the Kitchen.
Cajun Chicken Pasta

1 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly shredded, plus more for garnish
2 ½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, plus more for garnish
2 Roma tomatoes, diced

Prepare the penne pasta per package directions.

In a large pan heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the butter has melted into the oil, add the chicken and shallots; season well with salt & pepper and cook for 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and cover it on a separate dish to keep it warm.

Place your remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and your garlic in the pan you removed the chicken from. Let the garlic sauté for about 1 minute, making sure it doesn't brown and burn. Add your heavy cream and when it comes to a light simmer, add your parmesan cheese and mix well. Season with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning.

Add the drained pasta and toss it into the pan with the sauce. Stir in the chicken and tomatoes. Serve, topped with additional Parmesan.
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