Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wine-Braised Beef - 2 ways

I grew up in a meat and potatoes family, my husband is Italian. Roasts were a regular part of the menu plan growing up. Typically they were prepared simply, roasted in the oven and served with delicious pan dripping gravy and mashed potatoes and a side of some vegetable. When I tried to make a roast for my husband, he wasn't really into it. This bummed me out, I certainly couldn't make a 2-3# roast for myself. I would have to eat it for weeks. Despite this, a few weeks ago when the chuck roasts were on a BOGO sale, I picked two up.

I started searching for some recipes that I thought could work for my husband. I found a recipe that used a Wine-Braised Beef in a Shepherd's Pie. I made some simple adjustments, but mostly followed the braised beef portion. I wanted to keep it simple, so I made the beef, the potatoes and the peas and we built deconstructed Shepherd's Pie...especially important for me who doesn't eat peas. My kids didn't care for the Shepherd's Pie approach, so we came up with a sandwich that was similar to the Mongolian Beef with Spicy Mayonnaise that we had experienced at the Epcot Food and Wine event...not a perfect match, but we hadn't found any other options.

Wine-Braised Beef
2 pounds beef chuck pot roast cut into big hunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot
1 stalk celery
1 large shallot
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups sherry
15 ounces beef broth
3/4 cup water

Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Season beef on all sides liberally with salt and pepper then place inside pot and sear for 3-4 minutes on the top and bottom, until a golden brown crust has formed. Add carrots, celery, and shallots then cook until vegetables are tender, 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle in flour then stir and cook for 1 more minute.

Pour in sherry, beef broth, and water then bring to a boil. Place a lid on top of the pot then turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 2 - 2-1/2 hours, or until beef can be easily shredded, turning beef over halfway through. Remove meat then shred. If liquid is not thickened, turn heat up and simmer until thickened then return beef to the pot.

To make deconstructed shepherd's pie, prepare mashed potatoes and peas. Assemble in a dish, layering the beef, the peas and the potatoes.
To make braised beef sandwiches, prepare some siracha mayonnaise (1/2 c mayo, 1-2 tbsp siracha) and serve beef on a roll, with a smear of the siracha mayonnaise.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Chicken and Waffles

Friday night, we went out to dinner as a family at a newer restaurant that our friend opened. We had been there once for dessert and once for dinner in the past and on the way there, my son shared that he wanted to order the Chicken and Waffles. Unfortunately, they were not part of the dinner menu, but part of the brunch menu, so he couldn't order them.

This weekend, in an effort to clean out the pantry and organize a little, I had cleaned up my baking shelves and realized that I had a couple of pancake/waffle mixes that I needed to use. So, when I sat down to plan the menu for this week, I decided to try making Chicken and Waffles for dinner one night. I did some searching and saw many examples of what I expected, a fried chicken chunk on a section of waffle or a fried chicken breast sandwich with waffles as the bun. I saw one post where the chicken was skewered and cooked in the waffle. I decided that this approach was the one that intrigued me the most. I decided to forgo the skewers and to fry the chicken rather than bake it, but I did elect to make the dip.
The result was great. The crisp of the fried chicken was lost for the most part in the waffle - I'm guessing that the waffle batter soaked into the crust, but the flavor was still there. I had made my pieces small enough that most of them only took up one quadrant of the waffle maker, which was a nice size to eat them as a finger food or to cut them up to eat with a knife and fork. The dip was really good - the combination of the spicy mustard and the sweet of the maple syrup was nice. In fact, we had extra and decided that we would keep it for dipping other things in this week. This dish was declared a keeper.

Chicken and Waffles
Fried Chicken
2 boneless chicken breasts
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1 salt
1 pepper
1 cup crushed corn flake
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons canola oil

Waffle Batter
2 cups Pancake Mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg

Maple Mustard Dip
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons Ballpark mustard (could use a Dijon or Spicy mustard)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Cut the chicken breast in half (wanted to say lengthwise, what I mean is butterfly), then cut into pieces.

Whisk together 2 eggs and milk. Add the cut up chicken.

Place the oil in a frying pan and put on medium-high heat.

Place crushed corn flakes and bread crumbs on a plate. Add seasoned salt and ground chipotle pepper. Coat the chicken breast in crumbs. Place into frying pan, turning once, cooking until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a plate.

Preheat waffle iron.

Prepare waffle batter by combining the waffle mix, water, oil and egg.

Dip chicken into waffle batter then place on waffle iron (I spray mine with cooking spray).
Place in pan in oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining waffles.
Prepare dipping sauce by whisking together mayonnaise, maple syrup, and mustard.

Serve chicken waffles with dipping sauce.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

It is fall, which means at my house it is time for all things fall. It is time to start making roasts and chili. It is time for warm apple cider and marshmallows on the bonfire. And, it is time for Pumpkin! Not that you would guess from the several pumpkin recipes that I have shared already or anything (find those treats here - this recipe will come up on the search too).
I'm always on the hunt for more ways to enjoy pumpkin flavors, so I decided to try a new cookie recipe - Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. I found the inspiration on Pinterest.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles with white chocolate chips

1 cup butter melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup white chocolate chips

Yield: 64 cookies

Melt the butter in the microwave. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, 3 tsp cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together until combined. Fold in white chocolate chips. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll into balls. Mix together the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Roll each of the dough balls generously in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and arrange on baking sheet. Slightly flatten the dough balls before baking.

Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes at 350. They will still be soft when you remove from the oven, you can flatten the cookies out a little more when you take them out of the oven. Allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cheesy Spinach Cakes

I am always looking for options for a quick healthy side dish or grab and go breakfast items. A while back, in a local publication (I think that the hospital publishes) there was a recipe for these Cheesy Spinach Cakes. I changed some of the amounts because it called for more spinach than comes in a single bag and I only bought one bag and I wanted more substance so I added more cottage cheese. I also added in some jalapeno to give it a little more kick.

The resulting 'cake' is tasty. My son didn't care for them, my daughter won't eat them because they have spinach in them and my husband didn't try them yet - so at this point, they are all mine!. I enjoyed them and according to Cook'n (the recipe software I use), they are only 55 calories per cake and 6 grams of protein, which I think makes them perfect for an on the go breakfast following my workout or a satisfying side.
Cheesy Spinach Cakes

5 ounces bag, baby spinach
3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Chop spinach. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add cheeses, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper; stir to combine.

Coat 8 cups of the muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide the spinach mixture among the 8 cups (they will be very full).

Bake the spinach cakes until set, about 20 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a clean plate.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ginger Soy Tilapia

At our house, we are always looking for new ways to enjoy fish prepared at home. Recently, I found a new alternative for Tilapia, which is one of our go to fish. We like that tilapia is a nice mild, white fish. It works well in many recipes and is not 'fishy' tasting. Both of the kids enjoyed this preparation and I was told I could make it again.

With the preparation inside of foil pouches, this meal could also be prepared on the grill. We enjoyed it with a side of corn and rice.

Ginger Soy Tilapia
4 fillets (4 oz each) tilapia fillets
1/4 cup ginger soy sauce (or 2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger and 1/4 cup soy sauce)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 pepper

Preheat oven to 425F.

Tear off 4 pieces of foil. Place a tilapia fillet in the center of each piece. Drizzle each with ginger soy sauce and sesame oil. Season with pepper.

Fold the top of the foil and crimp to seal. Arrange packets in a single layer on a rimmed baking stone.

Bake until fish is opaque, 10 to 12 minutes if thawed, 18 to 20 minutes if frozen.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Chilled Plum Oatmeal Pudding

I enjoy oatmeal for breakfast. I usually make due with a simple packet of oatmeal, but in reality, my favorite is the good, goopy, slow-cooked kind that you have to add milk to. I typically get to enjoy that type when I am traveling and the hotel has it as an option on their buffet, or when I go out to Bob Evans or Panera for breakfast or occasionally at the cafeteria at work. I have pinned a few recipes for overnight oatmeal and crock-pot oatmeal, but haven't yet tried any of them. As I was reading through Martha Stewart Living this weekend (no idea which month), I found a recipe for oatmeal pudding. I thought that this sounded very interesting, as we are big fans of rice pudding. I also liked the idea that this could be a dessert or a breakfast option.

Her recipe indicated it made one serving, so I decided I needed to increase it so that I could make enough for the family to enjoy. I settled on tripling the recipe. I also decided to use unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead of plain. Even so, I had to add vanilla to the mix, because there just really wasn't any flavor outside of the plums that you serve on top. That being said, the oatmeal pudding, with vanilla extract added, is a great back drop for the juicy, tart plums that are made slightly sweet with the addition of maple syrup.

With the recipe tripled, I would say that it easily provides 6 servings if you are serving it as a breakfast, probably more like 12 if you are having it as a dessert. I definitely would make this again, I might even play with the flavors and try an almond extract or a maple extract instead of the vanilla next time I make it or even try sweetening it with a bit of brown sugar or honey. I also think it could be with other fresh fruit - cherries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. - although the tartness of the plum helps contribute to the flavor impact. Guess I will have to make this a bunch to try out all of the other options I have in mind.

Chilled Plum Oatmeal Pudding
Serves: 6

adapted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 pinch coarse salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 plums, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine oats, 2 1/4 cups of almond milk and 2 1/4 cups of water and salt in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until oats are tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly. Stir in remaining 3/4 cups of almond milk, the vanilla and 1 tbsp of maple syrup. Chill overnight.

Toss plums, 1 tbsp maple syrup and cinnamon in a bowl. Let stand 5 minutes.

Serve oatmeal topped with fruit and juices. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.


Grilled Chicken and Peaches with a Curried Tomato and Shallot Vinaigrette

As I was reading through a stack of magazines this weekends, I found several recipes that I was anxious to try. One recipe that I saw was for grilled chicken with curried peaches. It caught my eye because of the use of fruit in it. After actually reading the recipe, I knew I had to change it up because in the recipe I clipped, the peaches were not grilled. I am a fan of cooked fruits in my main dish, so I simply had to modify. My husband was a little bit skeptical of the peaches (and maybe the word curry), but after trying one of the peaches decided that he liked it even better than the tomatoes (have I mentioned that he is a huge fan of fresh tomatoes in dishes). I liked the idea that the vinaigrette gets added to the cooked chicken, rather than serving as a marinade. It really helped make the chicken tender and flavorful. We served it over brown rice, which absorbed the vinaigrette and also had a nice flavor.

This recipe is a definite keeper for my family.

Grilled Chicken and Peaches with a Curried Tomato and Shallot Vinaigrette
Serves: 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
2 peaches, pitted and cut into wedges
2 tomatoes plum
1 shallot thinly sliced


Preheat gas grill.

Brush 1 tbsp of olive oil on peaches and chicken. Salt and pepper the chicken.

Grill chicken until cooked through. At the same time, grill the peaches, offset from the heat (on shelf or side of grill opposite flames). If you want to give it some grill lines, you can put it directly over the heat for the last couple of minutes but they get warmed through and tender offset from the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, curry and the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and shallots. Set aside.

When the chicken is done, arrange on a platter. Add the peaches to the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Spoon the mixture on top of the chicken.

Top with chopped parsley or cilantro, if desired.