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Last night I undertook a new challenge. I made homemade pierogies. The other night we had chicken and mashed potatoes so I had some leftover mashed potatoes and decided that I should give this a try. I made my own pierogi dough which was amazingly quite simple. Then I took those leftover mashed potatoes, heated them a few minutes in the microwave and stirred in some grated cheddar cheese and seasoned them with salt, pepper and onion powder. I started the whole process at 4:15 and by 6:15 we were eating some pretty decent pierogies. I am sure that mine pale in comparison to those made by those with some Polish blood coursing through their veins but I am pretty satisfied with my first time outcome.
I am personally not a stew fan. The guys all love stew and I’ll make it, but I would just as soon make something else for myself rather than eat the stew. It’s nothing personal, I’m told I make good stew, but it just doesn’t hold a whole lot of appeal to me. There are things that are just so much more appetizing. That being said, since yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and since Irish blood does course through these veins and since we don’t eat corned beef and cabbage, I thought I’d make an Irish stew. I looked online for some Irish stew recipes and decided to go with a hybrid of sorts. A total lamb stew, I’m not sure how that would have gone over since we are not super big lamb eaters. An all beef stew, well, I already stated my opinion on that one. So I mixed them together, threw in some stout beer. I bought a single bottle of chocolate stout from a local brewing company since I couldn’t get a single Guinness (and since we don’t drink beer, I refuse to take up refrigerator space with any) and a bottle of red wine. I started this stew at 4 and we ate at 7. So, it really didn’t take very long at all and came out tasting quite good and coming from a non-stew lover, this is really, really high praise.
1 1/2 lbs lamb stew meat cut into bite size pieces
1 1/2 lbs beef chuck stew meat cut into bite size pieces
2 T. tomato paste
1 t. sugar
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 bottle chocolate stout beer of your choice
1 c. red wine (I used Shiraz)
4 c. beef broth (I used 1 T beef base with 4 cups water)
3 T. butter
6-7 carrots cut into bite size pieces
6-7 Yukon gold potatoes cut into bite size pieces
1 large onion cut into bite size pieces
2 bay leaves
olive oil for searing
salt and pepper to taste
1. I took the cut up beef and lamb and browned it in the olive oil in my dutch oven. I did the lamb first and then the beef. Removed it to a bowl when each was done.
2. I put the cooked meat back into the pan and added my onion, sauteed for a few minutes.
3. Add stout, red wine, beef broth, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, tomato paste and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cover.
4. In a separate pan, add butter and saute carrots for about 15 minutes. Turn off and leave in pan.
5. Allow meat to simmer, covered, for one hour. Then add potatoes and carrots, season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Allow to cook uncovered at a medium heat for approximately 40 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are cooked through.
Dinner last night was homemade French Onion soup with homemade baguettes. It was delicious and well worth the effort of making it from scratch. While I was at it, I made some more sandwich rolls for lunches.
Lunch rolls all ready for tomorrow.
The onions, about 8 cups of them, thinly sliced sauteed for a nice long time to get a beautiful golden brown and form the base of the soup.
The baguettes right from the oven. These were thinly sliced and popped into the toaster to crisp them up to use as the croutons. Of course, had I prepared better, I could have made the bread a day or two earlier and let the slices crisp up without the use of the toaster. Alas, I am not that prepared.
The soup bowls are getting assembled and prepped for some broiling.
The finished product …. was …. delicious.
We had about 30 inches of snow on the ground before the weather got warm the other day. Then, things melted and it rained and as predicted, it got cold again and everything froze. Our driveway is crunchy and icy and challenging to say the least.
When the snow was falling though the other day, it was time to bake some rolls. These are my new favorites, and the boys’ favorites, too. Quick and easy to make, they bake up quite nicely. I got this recipe from The Kitchen Whisperer and while, my rolls and her rolls looks different, (which I haven’t quite figured out why yet) they are absolutely a great sandwich rolls.
Today I made some ciabatta bread and rolls. Although the bread I usually make is a sourdough ciabatta recipe, this is a traditional ciabatta using a biga. This is the first time that I used a biga, since my other recipe just uses sourdough starter and no biga. I made the biga last night and let it sit as directed overnight. Mixed the dough this morning and decided to try both a loaf and rolls from the recipe which calls for either two loaves or 16 rolls.
Here is the recipe adapted from The Kitchn.com.
- 4 ounce (1/2 cup) water
- 1/2 teaspoon active-dry yeast
- 5 ounce (1 cup) all-purpose flour
Dissolve yeast in water. Add the flour and stir to form a thick, gloppy paste. Stir approximately 50 times to activate gluten. Cover and let sit at room temperature eight hours or overnight.
- 2 cups + 2 tablespoons water
- 1 t. yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (I added 4 1/2 cups since my dough was not binding together as indicated below)
- 2 t. kosher salt
Dissolve the yeast in the water in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add biga and stir to break up the large glob it has become.
Add the flour and the salt. Stir and let this rest for 10-20 minutes.
Using a dough hook, knead at medium speed for 15-18 minutes. Keep a close eye on your mixer as it has a tendency to “walk” on the counter at this speed.
The dough will
The dough will start off sticking to the bottom and sides of the bowl. Around halfway through the mixing time, the dough should slightly pull away from the sides of the bowl, and regularly slap the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t, turn the mixer speed up a notch. (This is where I noticed that it was still real soupy and not binding together at all and I added another 1/2 cup of flour a little at a time. The dough is still very wet compared to bread dough you might be used to — this is okay and what it is supposed to be doing.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot until tripled in bulk.
Dust your work surface heavily with flour. Prepare two baking sheets each with a sheet of parchment. Scrape the dough out on the floured surface and dust the top with more flour. Use a pastry cutter to divide the dough into two if you are making loaves or 16 pieces if you are making rolls. I did half and half — did one loaf and 8 rolls.
Brush your hands with flour. Working gently but swiftly, scoop the the loaves (or the rolls) one at a time from the work surface to the parchment. Press your fingertips about halfway into the dough to dimple the surface and slightly flatten. Let the loaves (or rolls) rise, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes. When ready to bake, they should look pillowy with many big bubbles just beneath the surface.
Preheat the oven to 475°F while the loaves are rising. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven now.
When ready to bake, slide the loaves, still on the parchment, onto a pizza stone if you have one. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Rolls will most likely cook faster than the loaves if you made both like I did. Slip the parchment out from under the loaves or flip them over and cool completely before eating.
Ciabatta rolls just before they went in the oven.
Finished ciabatta rolls — fresh from the oven.
Tonight, we were supposed to be going out for dinner. However, the wood stove was too warm and comfortable and the company was good. We were cozy and Mother Nature wasn’t making leaving the nest too desirable even for an anticipated night out. Not having planned on making dinner tonight, this was a throw-together. Sometimes, honestly, I think the “open the pantry and empty the fridge” meals somehow turn out to be the best meals of all.
The ingredients on hand:
- leftover boiled chicken breast
- fresh basil
- broccoli crowns
- red bell pepper
- chili garlic sauce
- olive oil
- potato gnocchi
I sauteed the vegetables together, added the shredded chicken and a very little olive oil (the special one that Tim brought back from Spain) seasoned it with a little kosher salt and a teaspoon of chili-garlic sauce. Added the gnocchi when it was cooked (which didn’t take long at all) and topped it with a couple grinds of shredded asiago cheese. Served it with some warm homemade bread. We enjoyed it by the fire with some great music playing in the background. Very delicious, indeed.
The other day I found this recipe for chocolate banana bread. I tried it, it was a hit at our house, even among those that didn’t like banana bread.
Personally, I think the chocolate did the trick. How can anyone not like chocolate?
If you’re interested here is the link to the recipe, which can be found at www.cookinglight.com
I made these peach preserves over the weekend with fresh peaches. Oh my goodness, are they good. I found the recipe here at Natasha’s Kitchen and I suggest that you hop on over there to check it out. I adapted it a bit to add a touch of vanilla (about 1 teaspoon) to the peaches before I jarred them. I had my doubts since the recipe takes a couple days to complete, but it seems that it is well worth the wait.
Tim and I went blueberry picking and I may go again today since one of the blueberry pick-your-own places indicated on FB that today is the last day of picking for the season. We came home with two bags full of blueberries and I made a blueberry muffin cake. The original recipe is from Fine Cooking but I tweaked it just a bit to add a streusel topping, the same as on the blueberry muffins that I make. It definitely took the cake, which was delicious without the topping to a different level.
For those of you that asked, here is the recipe:
Blueberry Muffin Cake (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine recipe)
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly; more for the pan
- 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 lb. (2 cups) fresh blueberries
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 t. cinnamon
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round springform pan.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Using a silicone spatula, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the berries. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Tap the pan on the counter once or twice to break any air bubbles.
Mix together the topping ingredients which should make crumbles. Spread the crumbled streusel topping over the cake batter.
Bake until golden-brown and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The original recipe says the cooking time is 45-55 minutes which is what worked without the streusel. With the streusel topping, add an extra 15-20 minutes, check occasionally until a tester comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake and remove the side of the pan. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and serve warm or at room temperature. Ours didn’t make it to the cooling phase. It was steaming still when we removed it from the pan to eat with a cup of tea the other night for dessert.
Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, is the day before the lenten season of fasting and abstinence begins. It is the culmination of the festival of Carnivale which begins with the celebration of the Epiphany which occurs twelve days after Christmas. In celebration of the last day before Lent, most people go all out with a special meal or in the case of a lot of people, a dinner of pancakes since Fat Tuesday is also known in parts of the world as Pancake Day. The reason being that people traditionally would use the last day before the lenten season to use up all their fat, eggs and dairy by making pancakes before Ash Wednesday to clean the cupboards, so to speak, of the rich and fattening foods that weren’t permitted during the fasting period.
We didn’t have pancakes for dinner (although that would have also been a good idea) instead, we had just about as fat a meal as one could get at the men’s requests– Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes with a provolone cheese sauce on kaiser buns and scalloped potatoes au gratin.
This is my trusty mandoline which is probably as old as at least one of the boys and is kept safe and sound in its cardboard box (together with its VHS instructional tape (give you an idea of how old it really is?) in the closet and is taken out for french fries, thinly sliced cucumber salad and for these potatoes. It made the work of thinly slicing four pounds of potatoes a heck of lot easier — otherwise I might not be writing this now, but rather I might still be slicing potatoes.
We had salad and I had steamed escarole too, just because we needed something green and relatively healthy.
Dessert will be double dark chocolate brownies that just got taken out of the oven instead of the King cake that a lot of people enjoy.
However you choose to celebrate — Happy Mardi Gras!
- Happy Mardi Gras! (frenchtwistedwoman.com)
- This History of Mardi Gras (stlouisanshenanigans.wordpress.com)
- Clean Monday, Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday – What’s It All About? (godspace.wordpress.com)
- Celebrate “Fat Tuesday” with Orange Beignets (myoldtowneorange.com)
So, for anyone who’s tried the yogurt recipe I posted the other day, here is something to go along with that yogurt. Pumpkin granola.
While Tom was away and the house was relatively empty, I went on a bit of a baking spree. I mixed up a batch of pumpkin granola from a recipe I found here on Stumbleupon and then I made these pumpkin granola bars which are also quite nice with a cup of tea.Eatingwell…livingthin posted a great pumpkin granola recipe. Such a simple thing, yet I have never tackled granola, despite my desire to do so. There has always been just one excuse after another….I don’t have the right ingredients, it will take too much time….yada, yada, yada. So, with nothing else of any moment to do, and the necessary ingredients in the cupboard I set out to make this granola.
I must digress for just a moment and say that if you haven’t been on Stumbleupon, I would definitely give it a try. You can create an account, pick your areas of interest and randomly “stumble” across websites on those topics. I have found a decent number of recipes using it and it’s also a nice way to come across websites that you might have otherwise ever found.
So…. back to the granola. Here is the recipe that I adapted from Eatingwell….living thin:
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup plus 2T maple syrup
1 egg yolk
2 t. pumpkin pie spice or a combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg as you would use for pie totaling 2 teaspoons)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
3 cups old fashioned oats — I used Bob’s Red Mill Steel cut but as long as you don’t use Quick cooking oats you should be fine
1 cup slivered almonds (you can use your nut of preference)
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Use parchment paper that you spray with cooking spray in a baking pan. Mine is 11 x 17.
Combine everything but the oats and nuts. Mix well. Then add oats and nuts, coating completely with the mixture.
Spread the mixture evenly in the pan and place in the oven. Stir every 15 minutes (honestly I forgot about this for the first 1/2 hour or so) and cook for about 1 hour. The granola should be brown when you take it out of the oven. Let it cool completely in the pan and then place in your favorite air-tight granola container.
Use it with your homemade yogurt or simply as a snack.
I came upon this homemade yogurt recipe over at Food in Jars and I love it! It is so easy, so simple and so delicious. I have made dozens of batches of yogurt this way and have yet to have one turn out disappointing, even when I forgot the jars overnight. Disillusioned with my yogurt maker which did great at first and then gave me a version of yogurt soup despite my attempts to try everything to get yogurt like the first few batches I was searching out another way to make yogurt. I wanted the convenience of the yogurt maker — the fix-it and forget-it attitude – I didn’t have time or the inclination to wrap crock pots in towels or tinker with the oven.
This is simple all you need is milk (I use skim) and about 2 T. of yogurt to use as starter the first time around – after that you can just save 2 T. from the previous batch. That’s the ingredients, here’s what else you require.
1. A small cooler (mine fits 2 or 3 quart mason jars)
2. Two quart size mason jars
3. One half gallon of milk (I use skim to make non-fat yogurt)
4. A whisk and a sauce pan to hold the half gallon of milk.
Then, it’s easy. Pour the milk into the sauce pan and heat until it is about 190 degrees. Remove from the stovetop and let it cool to 120 degrees. Then whisk in the 2 T of yogurt starter. Pour the milk into the quart jars — it should fill both of them to the tippy top perfectly. Cover the jars.
Put the jars into your cooler. Fill your cooler with hot tap water high enough to submerge the jars.
Put the lid on your cooler and I put mine right on the floor out of the way. Six hours later — YOGURT! You can leave it for up to 8 hours. I also left mine once overnight which was about 12 hours and it was tangy, but delicious.
Remove the jars from the cooler and put in the fridge. The finished product is 2 quarts of non-fat plain yogurt for the price of a half-gallon of skim milk and about 1/2 hour worth of my time. Not too shabby.