I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Showing posts with label beef. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beef. Show all posts

Friday, December 21, 2012

Braised Beef Shank

I have spent many of my days this week in a hung-over haze. Feeling tired, not quite well, struggling through runs, praying for a nap. Each of these rough days, however, stemmed from a wonderful night. I have spent most evenings this week out drinking with friends: watching football, catching up with old coworkers, celebrating a birthday, and meeting up with friends who are visiting New York. It has been a whirlwind of late night train rides and booze and fried food, but has been worth every rough morning wake-up call.

It definitely makes for a busy time of year, but I love how during the holidays we reach out to those we love and care for, making a point to spend time with one another. There’s always that sense that it will be a while ‘til we can hang out again, which I think is somehow a holdover from our school days when winter break felt like an eternity.  Each meet-up just adds another recharge to my soul, filling me to the brim with love. The laughter and intelligent conversation fill me with light to get me through the shorter, darker days of mid-winter. After last Friday and the terrible events in Newtown, these meetings meant even more. (I’m still unable to really talk about the whole thing so will leave it there for today.)

Wishing you all a very happy holidays—hope they are filled with love, family, friends, laughter, hugs. If you are in need of a little holiday meal inspiration (which I always feel warrants something fancy, but don’t want to work terribly hard on since there’s so much else to do), I offer up this braised beef shank. It is rich with the sauce created by wine and the marrow, super tender, and is brightened up with a hit from the gremolata to finish the dish. Don't let the long list of ingredients get to you--after the chopping of the vegetables there isn't much else to do but sit and wait for the braise to do its work.

Braised Beef Shank
serves 2-3

1.5 lb. beef shank steak
salt and pepper
2 TB olive oil
1 large carrot, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3-4 sprigs of thyme
2 TB tomato paste
1 TB anchovy paste
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 c. white wine
3/4 c. beef stock

1/4 c. parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon

Pat the beef shank dry with a paper towel and then sprinkle with a generous quantity of salt and pepper. 
Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat with the olive oil until just before it starts to smoke. Add the shank and brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the shank steak to a plate.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the carrot, celery and onion to the pan. Cook until the vegetables are just slightly tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute or so. Then add the tomato paste and anchovy paste and stir for about one minute. Add the bay leaf, white wine, beef stock and the shank back to the pan and bring the liquids to a boil. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low to allow the liquids to simmer. Allow the meat to braise until it is fork tender, probably at least 1 1/2 hours. When the meat has finished cooking, remove to a deep serving platter to rest for a few minutes and turn the heat back up to medium high on the liquids in the pan. You just want to boil them for 6-8 minutes to reduce the liquid a bit. Then pour the cooking liquid and vegetables over top of the shank steak on the platter.

While the liquid is reducing, mix together the parsley, garlic and lemon zest in a small bowl. Serve this over top of the braised beef shank. The beef shank is best served with something starchy that can help soak up the delicious juices, like smashed potatoes or risotto.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Deep Dish French Bread Pizzas

Last week over on Pine Tar Press I created a simple version of deep dish pizza for the Royals series with the Chicago White Sox. Instead of laboring over a crust, I used club rolls and hollowed them out to create "bread boats" to fill with the hearty pizza toppings. These were so good I plan on making them again and again (but be forewarned: they are gut-busters!).
Deep Dish French Bread Pizza

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

News--and Blue Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Burgers

Starting this week I will be a weekly contributor to Pine Tar Press--a baseball/Royals centered blog from some great Kansas City sports minds. My knowledge of baseball is lacking, but I whip up a mean tailgating feast and will be sharing my recipes and tips to bring this info to your own pre-game parties. Check me out every week for Batter Up and Fry: Tailgating Treats. To start things off this week I have featured Blue Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Burgers. Check out Pine Tar Press for the recipe.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Creamy Mushroom Steak Sauce

I was in jury duty most of last week. This meant a lot of sitting around the courthouse, waiting, listening, waiting, considering, waiting. I came home each night mentally worn out. Since I didn't have a lot of time to cook and didn't really feel like spending too much time in the kitchen anyways it led to a lot of quick, no-fuss meals.

One of these meals included boneless rib-eye steaks and corn on the cob. Hardly any effort necessary and yet this meal always brings back memories of childhood summers and the parents grilling in the backyard. I decided to up the ante slightly by making a hearty pan sauce after searing the steaks in the cast iron skillet. Any leftover sauce can always be used over biscuits or pasta.

Creamy Mushroom Steak Sauce
2-3 servings

2 steaks of your choosing, seared to perfection in a cast iron skillet and sprinkled with salt and pepper
5 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/4 c. white wine or dry vermouth
3/4 c. heavy cream
3 TB butter
1 TB flour (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

After removing the steaks from the cast iron skillet, turn the heat to medium and toss in the mushrooms. Saute until cooked through and slightly browned, adding the garlic for the last minute or so of cooking.
Add in the white wine or vermouth to the pan, using a spoon to scrape up any meat or mushroom bits that are sticking to the bottom of the pan. Then add in the heavy cream. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened up slightly. If you want a thicker sauce mix 1 TB of the heavy cream with the flour in a small bowl and then add to the cream sauce at this time, and stir for about 4 minutes or until thickened. Then add the salt and pepper to taste. Serve over top of the steaks.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rainy Day Beef and Mushroom Stew

Sometimes I love when it rains on my day off.

I know I am probably in the minority there, but the rain is the perfect excuse for a lazy day. If it is nice outside, I feel like I should be out taking advantage of it. But on a rainy day I can curl up under a blanket with Joe on the couch with a drink in hand while something slowly simmers away in the oven. Something hearty and filling. Like this beef and mushroom stew.

One of the great things about this dish is that it is completely versatile. If you don't have an ingredient you can usually leave it out or substitute it with something else. You can also toss in anything extra that you may be craving that day. This particular version is especially rich thanks to the dried mushrooms: you soak them in water and add them to the vegetables and then use the soaking water as part of the stock. And the couple of cups of red wine in the base don't hurt, either.
So the next time the weather isn't so hot on your day off, look at it as a blessing. Put on a pot of this stew and curl up with a glass bottle of wine and someone you love, and relax.

Beef and Mushroom Stew

1/2 c. dried chanterelles
3/4 c. hot water
1 lb. beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2" cubes
salt and pepper
4 TB olive oil, divided
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 TB fresh herbs, such as rosemary and thyme
2 c. red wine
1 c. beef stock
3 TB tomato sauce (or 1 TB tomato paste)
1 bay leaf
1 parmesan rind*

Remove the beef from the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Place the dried chanterelles into a bowl and pour the hot water over them and allow to soak for 30 minutes while chopping and preparing the remaining ingredients. Once ready to use, drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Toss the beef cubes with flour to coat. Heat 2 TB olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the beef on all sides, working in batches so as to not overcrowd the pan and then remove to a plate.
Add remaining oil to pan and toss in carrots, celery, onion, garlic and herbs. Allow to cook until they become tender, about 6 minutes. Add the drainied mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes. Add red wine, beef stock, tomato sauce and reserved mushroom soaking liquid to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the bay leaf and parmesan rind, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is tender, about 2-2 1/2 hours, checking and stirring the stew after about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the stew from the oven, remove the bay leaf and parmesan rind and serve. Especially good served over egg noodles, mashed potatoes or sopped up with crusty bread.

*When you have a good hunk of Parmesan cheese and you get down to the rind where you can't grate it anymore, hang on to this piece. It can be thrown into stocks and soups to add extra flavor and depth. Remove it at the end of cooking--it will look like a soggy sponge, so not pretty, but the flavor is worth it!

Friday, July 17, 2009

BBQ Beef Brisket, Bok Choy Cole Slaw, Lime-Basil Potato Salad

It really is finally starting to feel like summer around the city. The endless rain stopped and we've had some beautiful weather. Great weather to spend outdoors enjoying the parks and barbecuing. If I only had a grill.
We do take picnics to the park often, though. Some coffee and pastries or sandwiches. Then we'll lounge around and enjoy the clouds, smell of the grass and the breeze. Some days in Prospect Park, you can almost forget that you are in the big city.
The coming of summer has brought about that craving for BBQ. As Kansas City-ans, it's hard to find BBQ that lives up to our standards, but this meal was a pretty good substitute with a couple of new takes on old themes. I'm especially in love with the Bok Choy Cole slaw and have been devouring the leftovers like mad.
I want to send a quick shout-out to the new Franklin Ave. flea market open on Saturdays this summer. If you live in my neck of the woods, check it out! It's where I found the BBQ sauce for the brisket, courtesy of the Pour Gourmet.

BBQ Beef Brisket
1 1.75lb beef brisket
salt and pepper
2 TB cooking oil
1/2 c. chopped carrots
1/2 c. chopped celery
3/4 c. chopped onions
2 bottles lager
1 1/2 c. BBQ sauce

Preheat the oven to 325.
Salt and pepper all sides of the brisket well. Heat the cooking oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat and when hot brown the brisket on all sides (about 3-4 minutes each). Remove the meat from the pan and add the carrots, celery and onions to the hot oil. Cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Return the brisket to the pan and add the 2 bottles of lager. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover then pan tightly and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 hour, then flip the brisket over and return to the oven. Cook until fork tender, about another hour to hour and a half. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then remove the meat to a platter and shred. Place shredded meat into a large saute pan and add the BBQ sauce. Cook over medium heat until heated through. Serve over toasted country bread.

Bok Choy Cole Slaw
3 small heads of bok choy
3 carrots, shredded
1/2 c. finely minced onions
6 garlic scapes, chopped
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 t. celery salt
1/2 t. ground mustard
1 t. sesame oil
1 TB sugar
1/4 t. pepper

Chop the bok choy into thin shreds. Toss with the carrots, onions and garlic scapes. In a separate bowl mix together the vinegars, celery salt, ground mustard, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Combine the dressing and the vegetables and then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Lime Basil Potato Salad
3 c. small red potatoes
1/2 c. olive oil
1/3 c. lime basil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Scrub the small potatoes and cut into large bite size pieces. Place in a large pan of boiling salted water and cook until tender, about 12-14 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
While the potatoes are cooking, blend together the olive oil, lime basil, salt and pepper in a food processor. Toss this oil with the potatoes to serve.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beef Wellington

Ok. I think I am back finally! We are settled in to the new apartment, my kitchen is unpacked, and I've made a few meals that are blog-worthy (including a big Easter spread that will be slowly unfolding on here!). I haven't been keeping up with the reading of blogs lately, either, so I promise to get caught up on all soon.
First up: a picture of the new kitchen. It's small, but I love it. It's open to the living room and I can cook while watching TV when I'm alone or I can chat with my husband/friends when there are people over. In my last kitchen it was hard to have more than one person in the kitchen an here I can actually not feel cut off from the world in there. The kitchen got really good and broken in on Easter when I cooked a meal for 13!

And, just to brag a little, here's the view to the left when looking out of our window:

For the first real meal in our new apartment, I was really ready to cook and make something new, and maybe a little fancy. Beef Wellington hits the spot. What's really great about this recipe is that it is honestly so, so easy but feels like you have slaved away forever on it. It feels like one of those really romantic meals for me. I've never tried out this recipe before, but you can bet that I will be making it again and again.

Beef Wellington
(from about.com)
2 fillets mignon, 1-inch thick
2 sheets puff pastry
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 Tbsp. Mushroom Duxelles
1 egg

1. Thaw puff pastry according to package directions.
2. Fillets are often irregular in shape, if yours are use a piece of kitchen twine to tie them into a round. (See the photo tutorial for making Individual Beef Wellingtons.)
3. Season fillets generously with salt and pepper.
4. Pre-heat a medium (10-inch) non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and swirl in pan to melt.
5. Cook fillets on both sides for about 3 minutes until well-browned, then brown the edges. Note: Regularly check the internal temperature of the fillets, they should not be cooked past 120F at the center.*** Allow fillets to cool, then wrap in plastic and chill for at least a couple of hours. In the meantime make the duxelles.
6. Heat oven to 400F. Whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water (egg wash).
7. Wrap the fillets in puff pastry . Brush with egg wash, and bake in center of oven until golden brown; about 30 minutes.
I love to serve these drizzled with truffle oil and red wine reduction (recipe below).

***Note: The fillets are deliberately undercooked and then chilled to prevent them from overcooking in the final step. They should come out of the oven medium rare after the final baking.

Mushroom Duxelles
(from about.com)
1/2 lb.mushrooms (morels are great, but button mushrooms work)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter; divided
3 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme or 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup dry vermouth, sherry, or white wine

1. Finely chop mushrooms in a food processor.
2. Scrape mushrooms out into a clean, cotton towel. (Note: Do not use terry cloth, and choose an old towel as you will stain it.)
3. Twist towel around mushrooms and wring out as much liquid as you can over the sink.
4. Heat a large (10-inch) non-stick skillet over a burner set between medium and medium-high.
5. Add 1 tablespoon butter and swirl to melt and avoid burning.
6. Add mushrooms, shallots, a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper, and thyme.
7. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms appear dry and are beginning to brown; about 5 minutes.
8. Stir in remaining tablespoon of butter, and, when melted, the sherry or wine.
9. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vermouth has evaporated.
10. Remove from heat and cool.
Note: Duxelles freeze well, so although this recipe produces more than you need for two wellingtons, you can save the remainder for future use.

Red Wine Reduction
1 c. red wine
2 TB cold butter, cut into 6 pieces
salt and pepper

Add the red wine to the pan that you used to cook the mushroom duxelles. Cook over medium/medium-high heat until it is reduced by half. Turn the heat to low and slowly add the butter a piece at a time, whisking the sauce to incorporate. Salt and pepper to taste and drizzle over the wellington to serve.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I always think that vegetable lasagna looks so good and want to try it. But I don't make lasagna very often, so when I finally get around to it I find myself craving the regular kind. This time around I decided to make a slight combo of the two by adding some sliced zucchini to a regular old lasagna. It curbed both of my cravings.

I like my lasagna with a lot of cheese and sauce so it is extra gooey. I think this may be my favorite version I've ever had. If you're not feeling the veggies, you can leave them out, or if the mood strikes you you can always add some more! I have to admit that I made this almost overflowing from my 9X9 pan and had to sit it on a baking sheet to bake to catch any drips, so if you have an extra deep baking dish, it may bode well for you to use that instead.

1 16 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
4 links spicy Italian sausage, removed from casings
3/4 lb. hamburger
2 TB onion flakes
2 t. garlic powder
2 TB Italian seasoning

3/4 of a 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 TB herbs de Provence

8 Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
3 c. mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1 zucchini, sliced thinly

To make the sauce: Cook the sausage, hamburger, garlic powder and onion flakes in a large skillet with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Once cooked add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and sauce, and the Italian seasoning. Continue cooking until cooked through.

In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, egg, and herbs de Provence.

To assemble lasagna: Preheat oven to 375.
Divide up ingredients in the following way: 5 equal portions sauce, 3 of the ricotta mixture and zucchini, and 4 of the cheeses and the pasta.
Start by spreading 1/5 of the sauce on the bottom of a 9X9" baking dish (preferably one with extra tall sides). Place 2 pasta shells on top. On top of the pasta spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the zucchini slices, 1/4 of the cheeses, and finally 1/5 of the sauce. Top with 2 more pasta sheets. Repeat the filling layers two more times. Top the final 2 pasta sheets with the remaining 1/5 sauce and 1/4 cheese (you should have the bottom layer of sauce, then 3 layers with all of the fillings, then the top layer of sauce and cheese).
Cover baking dish with foil and cook for about 50 minutes. Uncover and cook 5-10 minutes more. Allow the lasagna to sit for 10 minutes before cutting into it and serving.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Taqueria Style Tacos, Taco Seasoning and Guacamole

I was craving tacos last week in a major way, but I really wanted to try something a little new as well. I came across a recipe on allrecipes that got rave reviews and decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did because it was delicious. I will be making these again and again. The marinade is perfect for these tacos, but would be great for just grilling the steaks as well.
Alongside of the steak tacos I also served regular ground beef tacos with a simple seasoning mix, some guacamole, and the fresh corn pancakes.

Taqueria Style Tacos

3 pounds flank steak
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika

1 white onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, juiced

2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 white onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 dried New Mexico chile pods
1 pinch salt and pepper to taste

1 (32 ounce) package corn tortillas
2 cups grated cotija cheese (optional)
2 limes, cut into wedges

Lay the flank steak in a large glass baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, 4 cloves of garlic, juice of two limes, and olive oil. Season with salt, black pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, cumin and paprika. Whisk until well blended, then pour over the steak in the dish. Turn over once to coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap, and marinate for 1 to 8 hours.
In a small bowl, stir together 1 chopped white onion, cilantro, and the juice of 1 lime. Set aside to use as a relish for the tacos.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Toast chile pods in the skillet for a few minutes, then remove to a bowl of water to soak for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Place the tomatoes, 1 onion, jalapenos, and 4 cloves of garlic onto a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until toasted but not burnt. Place the roasted vegetables, and soaked chile pods into a blender or food processor, along with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut the marinated flank steak into cubes or strips. Cook, stirring constantly, until the meat is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Warm the tortillas in a skillet for about a minute on each side to make them pliable. Tortillas may also be warmed in a microwave oven. Arrange two or three tortillas on a plate, and lay a generous amount of beef over them. Top with a sprinkle of the onion relish and a large spoonful of the pureed salsa. Add as much cheese as you like. Garnish with lime wedges, and serve.

Taco Seasoning
1 TB chili powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion salt
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. paprika
2 t. ground cumin
1 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1/4 t. celery salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
Mix together and use as seasoning for ground beef for tacos.

3 avocados, peeled and and chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/2 jalepino, finely diced
1 t. salt
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 TB cilantro, chopped
1 TB hot sauce
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. pepper
2 t. garlic powder
Mix all ingredints together. For a non-chunky guac (as my husband enjoys it), place into a food processor and pulse until it reaches the consistency you desire.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Roast Beef Paninis

When I think about cooking dinner lately, I find myself thinking big. Sometimes too big. The problem is that I work mostly evenings, so I don't get to cook dinner that often, and when I do I feel the need to go all out. The other night I really felt like eating something great for dinner, but didn't want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen. So I tried to think of something fast, but still with a creative flair. These Roast Beef Paninis are the result.
I used the left-over roast beef from the previous post, sliced it thin, and layered it up on some focaccia bread and popped it on my grill pan and placed a weight on top of it. I served the paninis with polenta (just cooked with some water and then mixed with a handful of parmesan cheese) and a simple salad. Dinner was ready in about 15 minutes, including opening the bottle of wine. And it was really delicious. A great dinner does not have to take all day!

Roast Beef Paninis
Roast beef, sliced very thin
Havarti cheese slices
artichoke pate' (or an artichoke puree--I found this next to pesto and sun-dried tomato puree)
Focaccia Bread, each piece sliced about 1/2" thick

Spread artichoke pate on one side of a slice of focaccia bread. Add a layer of roast beef, cheese, and then top with another slice of focaccia bread. Place on a very hot, greased grill pan and top with something heavy to press together (I set my baking dishes on top of the paninis). Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, watching carefully so the bread does not burn. Panini is ready when it has been heated through and the cheese is melted.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Guinness and Apple Roast Beef

I have been trying to get better at different cooking techniques and expanding my knowledge of basic cooking concepts. So I decided to try roasting some beef last week. I decided to give it a try with some Guinness for richness, apples for a little hint of sweetness, and onions for flavor. This roast turned out nice, but was a little tougher than I would have liked. I am learning that the rump roast would probably not be quite as tough as if I braised it (the longer, slower cooking time helps when you are cooking cuts of meat from parts of the animal that do more work: shoulders, rump, etc.). This recipe would work to braise as well, if you sear the beef first and cook it, covered, at a lower temperature. You could also use a more tender cut of meat (like the tenderloin) and still roast it and it would work well. I plan on trying a few more times to get a roast beef that tastes good and is super tender, but the flavor of this recipe is a good start!

Guinness and Apple Roast Beef
2 small onions, sliced
3 apples, sliced
1 bottle Guinness
1 beef roast (I used about a 3 lb. rump roast)
2 TB Worcestershire
1 t. liquid smoke
1 t. salt

1 t. season salt

1 t. pepper

1 t. garlic powder

Mix together Guinness, Worcestershire, liquid smoke, season salt, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Allow beef to marinate in beer mixture for at least two hours in the refrigerator. 30 minutes before cooking, remove from refrigerator and bring meat and marinade to room temperature before roasting.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Toss apple and onion slices with the meat and the marinade. Place in a greased roasting pan and cook until meat thermometer inserted in the center of the roast has reached 140 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow roast to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Chili Halloween

I hate being cold. I hate the way the wind makes my ears feel like they are going to explode and makes my head throb. I hate bundling up to go out because I feel really restrained and uncomfortable--it's like my scarf is trying to choke me. Every year I dread the coming winter. But then I remember how much I love being holed up in my house cooking soups and baking things just to warm up the kitchen. I think cooking helps me make it through those cold months. Plus there are so many things to make that just don't taste as good in the summer.

For Halloween it was time to make the first chili of the season. I love all of the different variations on chili, but sometimes nothing is as good as basic, simple beans and hamburger. I used to use chili seasoning mixes that I bought at the grocery store, but I figured it was time to make a homemade seasoning blend. I wasn't sure of everything to put in, so I found a recipe on allrecipes.com and used it. It was a great blend and I will be using it to base my chili mixes on in the future. I also found a recipe for homemade cornbread on allrecipes (after dining at the Delta Grill last week I needed corn bread). And to finish it all up I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, which I saw on ...And a Cookie for Dessert (www.brooke-cookiejar.blogspot.com/). I did half chocolate chips and half butterscotch chips. These cookies are amazing. I think now that we are out of them I may need to make some more!

(seasoning mix from allrecipes)
seasoning mix
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I didn't use the flour at all)
4 teaspoons chili powder (I added extra chili powder)
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried, minced garlic (I used garlic powder)
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
for the chili
1 lb. hamburger, cooked (with some seasoning mix) and drained
1 (15.5 oz) can red kidney beans
1 (16oz) can diced/stewed tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
Mix together the ingredients for the seasoning mix. Use 1-2 TB to sprinkle over ground beef while cooking. Drain the beef and then put into slow cooker. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, pepper, and the rest of the seasoning mix. Cook chili on high for 3 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

Corn Bread
(from allrecipes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup shortening (I used butter instead)

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the milk, eggs and shortening; beat for 1 minute. Pour into a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until bread is golden brown and tests done.
Pumpkin Chocolate chip Cookies
(from ..and a Cookie for Dessert)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used 1/2 a bag chocolate and 1/2 a bag butterscotch chips)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) (I didn't use)

Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fall in the City

Autumn is finally coming to New York. It is my first fall here in the city and so far I am in love with it. The cool air seems to have pushed out any of the strange smells that linger during the summer and brought with it a refreshing, invigorating scent. It also seems to help awaken the senses out of the summer grogginess and make me feel more alert and aware of everything around me. And my favorite part of all, it brings along the season for soups, hearty meals, and baking! Almost every day while walking in the crisp fall air I have the urge to run home and make some bread or cookies.
This weekend I was heading to a friends house for a house warming party and decided to bring them some banana nut bread alongside with some wine. For some reason it turned out a little more crumbly than usual. I don't know if it was because the bananas were not mushy enough or if I used too much flour, or if the recipe was just a little different than the one I usually use (I used the Better Homes and Gardens recipe, but while growing up I used Betty Crocker's). Either way, it still tasted just as good.

Banana Bread (BH & G)
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1 egg
1 c. mashed bananas (3 medium)
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cooking oil
1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans
Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of an 8X4X2" loaf pan; set aside. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/8 t. salt. make a well in the center of dry mixture; set aside.
In another bowl combine the egg, bananas, sugar cooking oil. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in nuts.
Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan; cool on rack. Wrap and store over night before slicing.

Last night I decided I would try my hand at one of my favorite recipes from my mom, her Crazy Quilt Crust Pie. It's a mexican casserole she would make when we were kids and it was one of my favorite dishes. A slightly crispy, very flaky crust filled with sour cream and hamburger, refried beans and cheese, it is hearty and perfect for a cool fall evening. After finishing up with dinner, I had to try out a cookie recipe I found for Cappuccino Crinkles.

Crazy Quilt Crust Pie (from my mom)

(for the Crust)

1/2 c. flour

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. baking powder

1/4 c. shortening

1/2 c. sour cream


1/2-3/4 lb ground beef, browned and drained

1/2 package taco seasoning

1/2 c. sour cream

3/4 c. refried beans

3/4 c. crushed tortilla chips

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease and flower bottom and sides of a 9X9 casserole dish. Combine all ingredients for the crust and stir until blended. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Spread batter thinly on the bottom and thickly up the sides of the casserole dish. Spread refried beans for first layer on the dough. Next, mix together the hamburger, sour cream and taco seasoning and spread as the second layer on top of the refried beans. Top with cheese and then with the crushed tortilla chips. Bake for 25 minutes.

Cappuccino Crinkles (BH&G)

1/3 c. butter

1 c. packed brown sugar

2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 TB instant coffee granules

1 t. baking soda

1 t. ground cinnamon

2 egg whites

1/3 c. low-fat vanilla yogurt

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. granulated sugar

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter or margarine with an electric mixer on medium to high speed about 30 seconds or till softened. Add the brown sugar, cocoa powder, coffee granules, baking soda and cinnamon. Beat till combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg whites and yogurt till combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour. Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Drop dough by a teaspoon into sugar and roll into balls. Place 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes till edges are firm. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Fried Apples 'n Onions and Steak topped with Basil Pesto

I am a nerd (if the Harry Potter posts didn't already tip you off...). Most of my childhood was spent with my nose in a book and to this day I have a hard time not getting emotionally involved and completely sucked up into the story I am reading. As a child, I especially loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and read them often. One month, when we received the Scholastic Book order form (which I would pour over every time it came and dream about owning all of those books), I stumbled upon "The Little House Cookbook: Frontier foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories" and had to have it. I loved looking through this book and imagined making everything in it, but eventually it got put in with my mother's other cookbooks and I forgot we had it. In college, when the cooking bug bit, my mother sent me this book to help me in my cooking endeavors and to remind me of the times we cooked together.

And I have finally made a recipe from this book: Fried Apples 'n' Onions. It was one of Almanzo's (Laura's husband) favorite dishes, and is a great side dish. The flavors all work really well together and it isn't too sweet and the bacon on top makes it amazing. I made a couple of changes to the recipe, mostly because the recipe in the book would feed about 10 people (even with the smaller version that I'm posting here, Joe and I each had two large servings and a little left over).

Fried Apples 'n' Onions
5-6 pieces of bacon, chopped
1 extra large yellow onion, sliced very thinly
2 tart apples, cored and sliced thinly (you want to have an equal amount of sliced apples and onions)
1 Tbsp. Brown sugar

Fry bacon in a skillet until brown and crisp. Set them aside. Drain all but 1 Tbsp. of fat from the skillet, then add the onion slices. Cook them over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Cover with apple slices in an even layer. Sprinkle brown sugar over all, cover the skillet, and cook until tender, a few minutes more. Stir only to prevent scorching. When finished cooking sprinkle with bacon pieces and serve.

I served the apples n' onions with steak topped with a basil pesto. The nutty, herb flavors in the pesto pair amazingly well with a grilled steak. I didn't have a real recipe for the pesto, but threw the ingredients in until it looked right. I blended together 2 large handfuls basil leaves, 1 small handful of walnuts (there were no pinenuts at the store, and I wasn't about to leave the house and wait for another subway just for pinenuts), 1 clove garlic. Then I added about 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil and a handful of grated parmesan cheese.