Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Crock Pot Beef Stew

Easy recipe with delicious results.

1 Package Stew Beef - chunks
3 large carrots - diced
6 potatoes - diced  ( I usually figure about 1 to 1 1/2 potato per person)
2 celery stalks - diced
1 onion - diced
1 can tomato soup + 1 cup water combined

Place all of the ingredients in the crock pot.  Salt and pepper to taste. Cover with tomato soup and water mixture.  Slow cook all day.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

Hummm...the forecast calls for a blizzard tomorrow and spring to return the next day with Easter and a camping trip in our plans for this weekend.  What a mixed bag this menu planner will be. 

Monday - Ground Beef Tacos
Tuesday - Crock Pot Beef Stew - I will post that recipe tomorrow
Wednesday - Chicken Caccitore a la Giada De Laurentis
Thursday - Leftover night
Friday - Eat out
We're headed to the coast to camp and Friday is travel day. The rest of the weekend including Sunday Easter Dinner is a joint effort by the talented women who are joining the campout.
Saturday - Slider Burger Bar
Sunday - Instead of a traditional Easter menu we're going coastal.  We're making a Cioppino type stew using crab, clams, fish fresh from the nearby harbor and adapting a recipe I found in Sunset.  I can't wait until Sunday. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Confessions of a cookbook reader

I read cookbooks...for fun.  I read them like novels.  I can't explain it. It relaxes me, it inspires me and provides endless enjoyment. I love all kinds of cookbooks but especially those with great photographs of the food.  I am a visual communicator so it makes sense.  I have a fair number of cookbooks in my collection.  Like Colorado Colore from the Junior League of Denver. I'm a native Coloradoan so I like reading recipes that remind me of home and these cookbooks capture the essence of Colorado cuisine.  One of the first cookbooks in that series, I nearly set on fire while I was making a recipe out of it.  Note to self, do not set the cookbook on the gas burner.  I am not above checking out cookbooks from the library to read or sitting comfortably in the cookbook section of a bookstore and devouring a few chapters. (I can do the same with food magazines too.)  There, I confess, I read cookbooks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Planning Monday 3-22-2010

Monday -  It's a mystery still but looks to be left over Skillet Lasagna from Sunday night
Tuesday - Beef and Noodles this was my favorite dish growing up.  I try to make it like my Mom did but some things just get lost in translation.  Hers is better.  But I am craving it, so here it goes. Place a nice roast in the crock pot and let it slow cook all day...maybe add some salt and pepper around noon.  For the noodles: combine 1 beaten egg, 2 Tbsp milk, 1/2 tsp salt and enough flour to make a stiff dough, about 1 cup.  Roll out the dough very thin on your counter.  Cover with a dish towel and let the noodles dry all day.  Remove the roast from the crock pot and shred it up, return to a pot on the stove and cover with the juices from the crock pot.  Add water if needed.  Bring to simmer.  Uncover the noodle dough, cut into 1 inch strips and add them to the simmering beef and broth.  Simmer until the noodles are cooked through.  Serve over mashed potatoes.  Yum.
I wish my Mom were here this week to make this for me.
Wednesday - Chicken Burgers  from Sunset Magazine
Thursday - Risotto with Peas, Asparagus tips and Bacon
Friday - French Dip Sandwiches with beef from the crock pot

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes and Close Friends

About once every two months a group of six fabulous women get together to talk about local issues, politics, business, life and whatever.  The women are my friends and a complete cross section. We're all from different backgrounds and beliefs which makes for very colorful conversation.  I love it. When we gather we each bring something to share and the result is a mini feast.  Last night my contribution was this Chocolate 'Irish Car Bomb' Cupcakes from a Smitten Kitchen recipe. They are soooo good.  There are a few steps but totally worth it.
A terrific treat over which we solved the problems of the world....or tried too.

Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes from Smitten Kitchen
While the Guinness in the cake gets mostly baked out, the Baileys is fresh and potent, so if you’re making this for people who don’t drink — ahem, nobody I know, but I hear such people exist — you’ll probably want to swap it with milk.
The Baileys frosting recipe makes a smallish amount of frosting — enough to just cover the cupcakes. Because they were so rich and this frosting so sweet, I felt it only needed a little. Double it if you want more of a towering effect.
Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes
For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
Ganache Filling (Updated to double it, based on many commenters suggestions — thanks!)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)
Baileys Frosting (see Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)
Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)
Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.
Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
[This is a fantastic trick I picked up while working on the cupcakes article for Martha Stewart Living; the test kitchen chefs had found that when they added the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings got less grainy, and tended to require less sugar to thicken them up.]
When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.
Ice and decorate the cupcakes. [I used a star tip and made little "poofs" everywhere and sprinkled it with various colors of sanding sugar to keep it looking festive for New Years. I bet shaved dark and white chocolates would look gorgeous as well.]
Do ahead: You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day. (Longer, they will start to get stale.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Naturally Green

My son's 3rd grade teacher decided to celebrate St Patrick's Day yesterday by asking the students to bring in naturally green snacks. I thought this was a really terrific idea.  It gave the class a chance to think about real food and make a list of foods that were naturally green.  Then they each selected something and brought in enough to share.  Delicious idea.
Here are a few that they tried:  green apples, cucumbers, celery, green grapes, avocado, lettuce, snap peas, pickles.  

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Celebrating St Patty's Day with Cupcakes

A friend was having a trunk show at her boutique on St Patrick's Day and wanted cupcakes. I thought the Mint Patty recipe from Foodtv Magazine looked perfect. They turned out exactly like the recipe/picture and taste delicious.  Just like a Thin Mint.  Yum. Try them you will not be disappointed. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Menu Planning Monday 3-15-2010

Monday - Taco Soup
Tuesday - Beef Broccoli from Foodtv Magazine
Wednesday - St Patty's Day party with friends - we're taking a side dish - I think Hot Artichoke Dip and Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes from Smitten Kitchen
Thursday - Skillet Lasagna 
Friday - Baked Chicken with grilled asparagus (totally in season and excellent right now)
Saturday - Crab Feed Fundraiser for Rotary Club
Sunday - Crab Enchiladas if I can buy and bring home any leftover crab

What are you making this week and how do you decide?  When do you decide?  When do you shop?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ebelskiver Pancakes for Breakfast

Some Saturday mornings call for something a little more special for breakfast.  This morning I made puffed pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon.  Yum.  The pan and mix are from Williams Sonoma but you can make your own mix as needed and fill these little treasures with things like Lemon Curd, Strawberry Jam and Nutella.  

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


This makes me happy.  Bright, yellow daffodils in the kitchen window.  Notice the backdrop of snow outside?  That starts getting old for me this time of year to be honest.  Spring are you there? Hello.  Please come to Truckee.  Soon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Menu Planning Monday or Tuesday 03-09-10

I oven roasted five large chicken breasts on the bone Sunday night.  And they happened to be on a killer sale so not only do I now have a great protein for my menu planning this week, it is budget friendly.

Monday - Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (using chicken from roasted breasts) and Broccoli Slaw
Tuesday - Pampered Chef Cheesy Chicken Chilaquiles (recipe below)
Wednesday - Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs
Thursday - Grilled Flank Steak Fajitas
Friday - Breakfast for Dinner

Cheesy Chicken Chilaquiles
1 1/2 lb (750 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp (15 mL) Southwestern Seasoning Mix
1 3/4 cups (425 mL) salsa verde
1 cup (250 mL) 33% reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup (175 mL) chopped fresh cilantro

12 cups (3 L) authentic restaurant-style tortilla chips (see Cook's Tips)
2 cups (500 mL) shredded Chihuahua cheese
1 cup (250 mL) crumbled queso fresco (4 oz/125 g)
Sour cream or crema (optional)
1. Cut chicken into 1-in. (2.5-cm) pieces with Utility Knife. Combine chicken and seasoning mix in Deep Covered Baker; mix well. Spread chicken evenly over bottom of baker. Microwave, covered, on HIGH 4 minutes; stir to separate chicken. Microwave, covered, an additional 4 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Drain using small Colander.
2. Combine salsa and broth in (4-cup/1-L) Easy Read Measuring Cup. Chop cilantro using Santoku Knife. Arrange half of the tortilla chips over bottom of same baker, breaking chips; top with half each of the chicken, salsa mixture and cheeses. Sprinkle with ½ cup (125 mL) of the cilantro. Repeat layers one time ending with cheeses.
3. Microwave, covered, on HIGH 5-7 minutes or until cheeses are melted and most of the liquid is absorbed. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup (50 mL) cilantro. Serve with sour cream, if desired.
Yield: 8 servings

Nutrients per serving: U.S. Nutrients per serving: Calories 410, Total Fat 19 g, Saturated Fat 8 g, Cholesterol 85 mg, Carbohydrate 30 g, Protein 30 g, Sodium 680 mg, Fiber 1 g

U.S. Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 starch, 2 medium-fat meat, ½ fat (2 carb)

Cook’s Tips: Queso fresco, also called queso blanco, is a salty, crumbly cheese that is common in Mexican dishes. Farmer’s cheese can be substituted for the queso fresco.

Mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese can be substituted for the Chihuahua cheese.

Authentic Mexican restaurant-style tortilla chips are thicker than other types of chips and keep their texture in this casserole.

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs can be substituted for chicken breasts, if desired.

Taco seasoning mix can be substituted for the Southwestern Seasoning Mix, if desired.

©The Pampered Chef, Ltd. 2009

Saturday, March 6, 2010

When in pastry

Ok when in France at Walt Disney World Epcot Center that is.  I traveled to Orlando this week on business but snuck away for an afternoon on my own at Epcot Center.  Love that place.  It also happens to be the kick off of the annual Flower and Garden Show and my camera is full of garden inspiration.  Among other things I love the World Showcase - a collection of exhibits or pavilions from countries around the world - including France.  Among the shops and gardens and restaurants is of course a french patisserie.  It was a tough choice but I settled on a Lemon Tart and Cafe Latte.  Delicious.  I grabbed a table outside, enjoyed my sweet treat and watched the world go by.  Pure bliss.
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