Friday, November 30, 2012

Fancy Pants App: Endive Salad with Fruits from Chile

Remember when I gave you a sneak peek into our Foods from Chile party?!  Our favorite recipe was this endive salad with fruits from Chile!  I could not believe the enormous amount of fruits and vegetables that Chile grows - I really had no idea.

As part of this dinner party, I was able to meet a fantastic representative of the Chilean government.  She was fascinating and we spent over an hour talking together.  I had a ton of questions for her about Chile; I'm sure she was surprised.  But for this girl, who dreams of getting on a plane and going to places far beyond our home (for a vacation at least), I was thrilled to be sharing in her culture and learning about everything Chile has to offer.

Chile is at the forefront of the organic movement.  Not only that, they are sensitive to carbon emissions and operate under strict oversight through their Free Trade Agreement.  The greatest part about it?  We can get those delicious summer-y ingredients year round by leveraging their opposite-seasoned climate.  Their abundance in berries, avocados, and salmon are all nutritious and full of antioxidants - be good to your body:  try out this delicious endive salad with the fruits from Chile. 

Endive Salads with Fruits from Chile
Serves:  10
6 heads of Endives (trim bottoms & separate leaves)
7 Chilean Clementines
2 cups Raspberries
1-1/2 cup Micro Kale
4-6 oz. crumbled Capricho de Cabra Goat Cheese
1/4 cup Handful minced parsley per platter
2 tablespoons Chile Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Sea Salt

Trim the bottoms of the endives and separate leaves on a large platter.  Peel and slice segments into rough chunks except for 1 ½ clementine. Scatter clementine segments, raspberries and micro kale across the plate and into the endive leaves. Spread goat cheese crumbles into the endive leaves. Sprinkle micro kale across the plate. Drizzle Chile Extra Virgin Olive Oil across plate and into the endive leaves. Squeeze juice of 1 ½ clementines or more across the plate. Sprinkle with Sea Salt. Garnish with the minced parsley. Add extra raspberries and clementines to the center.

Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Slow Cooking Supper: French Onion Soup

*Don't forget about my giveaway going on now!  I also have a BRAND NEW Facebook page.  Join The Growing Foodie on Facebook and earn another entry into the contest*

I will admit that this is a pretty time-intensive slow cooker recipe; but, I split it up by making the onions on Sunday in the afternoon and then preparing the soup for Monday's dinner.  That isn't to say, of course, that people, ahem, JOHN, were poking their fingers in to grab a taste of the delicious caramelizing onions. This soup's greatness will rise or fall based on how well the onions are cooked, so planning to do these ahead of time (or making this soup on a Saturday when you have time to really cook down these onions) are a key part of the recipe.

Last week John and I went shopping for the last of my Christmas gifts (what can I say?  I'm an early bird).  And we found these mugs (see the picture below) on clearance for $5.  Soup mugs.  On clearance.  I love me a good deal so I knew then and there I had to have them.  We bought a red and a white one.  And I set about making a soup that would be worthy of these new mugs.  Again, the only downside here are the onions.
That being said, this soup is a must make this winter season.  In fact, I really recommend it when company is coming over.  It smells divine; in fact, even our neighbors could smell it!   While you're at it, make a double batch of onions and make our French Onion Soup Pizza later that week - you won't regret it; it is by far the best pizza we've ever made!
French Onion Soup (loosely adapted from here and here)
Serves:  8 (about 1 cup per person)
3 tablespoons canola oil
5 large onions, sliced 
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup red wine
2 bay leafs
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
8 cups low-sodium beef broth
8 slices of french bread
2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated

Place oil in the crockpot on low heat.  Add the onions.  Let cook for about 45 - 60 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are brown and have soaked up all of the oil.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, red wine, bay leafs, thyme, pepper, and beef broth.  Stir well to combine.  Let the mixture cook for 4-6 hours.  Before serving, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Spoon the soup into 8 crocks.  Float a slice of bread on the top of each and then cover with 1/4 cup of grated Gruyere cheese.  Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble.  Carefully remove from the oven and serve immediately.

If you don't have the time this holiday season, try Rachael Ray's quick French Onion soup which I made last year!  Less than an hour and a hot soup is ready for devouring.  

Until the next time my oven is on...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Time-Out: Peanut Butter Granola

*Don't forget about my giveaway going on now!  I also have a BRAND NEW Facebook page.  Join The Growing Foodie on Facebook and earn another entry into the contest*

 John has been enjoying yogurt in the mornings for breakfast.  I knew this; for the last two weeks, I have seen the yogurts disappearing in the fridge.  Which is a good thing - I love that he's eating this for breakfast; it's healthy and gets him through to whatever leftovers he is having for lunch that day (sometimes being a blogger boyfriend is fun, sometimes, no fun - like having to eat all the leftovers).
Since we had such a long weekend, we had yogurt one morning for breakfast and John showed me his favorite special breakfast - he puts a package of oatmeal into yogurt.  Could that be anymore pathetic?  Surely, having a blogger for a girlfriend should entitle him to some premium mix-ins, right?  I felt certain that with the long weekend in front of us, I could oblige.

We picked out a few granola varieties together and then this past Sunday I set out to make them.  The first one is this peanut butter variation.  I love it because it's quick, easy, and I always have these ingredients in the house.  John loved it's true peanut butter flavor in vanilla or greek yogurts.  I can promise you this will be the easiest granola you will ever make, and it will be devoured fast!  I like to double the recipe and bring some for my yogurt at lunchtime. 
Peanut Butter Granola (adapted from Shape Magazine)
Serves: 6 (1/4 cup granola)
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine peanut butter and honey.  Microwave for about 30 seconds, until the peanut butter is melted.  Stir.  Add cinnamon, vanilla, oats, and raisins.  Mix well, until the oats are completely covered in the peanut butter mixture.   Grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Then, pour the oat mixture onto the cookie sheet spreading it into one thick layer.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until browned.  Let cool and transfer to an airtight container.  Store for up to two weeks.

Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sassy Sweets: Chocolate Cranberry Bars

*Don't forget about my giveaway going on now!  I also have a BRAND NEW Facebook page.  Join The Growing Foodie on Facebook and earn another entry into the contest*

 If any of you follow me on pinterest, it's likely you've already seen these cranberry bars!  They looked so good I couldn't stop at just admiring them from afar.  Nope, I knew I had to make them!  Luckily, this dessert fit perfectly with Mom's pre-planned spread.  And, just the description of them made M super happy because it gave her a much-needed chocolate fix.

The best part of these bars is their versatility!  Have a few extra cups of cranberries, you can whip these up in a snap to bring as a hostess gift, or serve them at your own table.  Do you have cranberry sauce left over?  As long as you don't season them extremely savory, this would be a great way to re-purpose that cranberry sauce.  I swear you would never even know you were eating cranberry sauce they are SO good.

We watched Iron Chef America - Thanksgiving Leftovers a few nights ago on late night TV, a Food Network favorite of ours!  I was so inspired by the way they repurposed their leftovers (mashed potato, stuffing, and turkey blended together and stuffed into tortellinis).  Yeah, they are iron chefs for a reason after all.  But repurpose your Thanksgiving leftovers with today or Friday's dishes.  You can feel like your very own iron chef, too!

Chocolate Cranberry Bars (adapted from Lemons and Anchovies)
Serves:  18
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 cup butter, salted
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
24 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons butter

Crust:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9x13 pan, line it with aluminum foil.  Set aside.  Meanwhile, beat together powdered sugar, flour, and cocoa powder.  Add butter, oats, chopped almonds, and mix on low until a soft dough forms (about a minute).  Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and spread it out evenly to the corners.  Bake for about 10 - 15 minutes until set.  

Filling:  Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil (about 3-5 minutes) then add the cranberries.  Cook on medium to medium-high heat until the cranberries pop (5-8 minutes).  Add the butter and juice.  Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is thick.  

Prepare:  Scoop the cranberries onto the crust and distribute evenly onto the pan.  Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.  Bake for 12-18 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool fully.  Cut into 18 squares.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, prior to serving. 

Until the next time my oven is on...
Monday, November 19, 2012

Brilliant Brunch: Pumpkin Pie Waffles with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

*Don't forget about my giveaway going on now!  I also have a BRAND NEW Facebook page.  Join The Growing Foodie on Facebook and earn another entry into the contest*

I'm going to let you in on a little that will have you thinking I must not be normal.  Oh, and if you had figured that out already, well then, this will help you back up the claim.  As far back as I can remember, Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday.  Isn't that weird?  What little kid doesn't like gifts and Santa?  We all should have known then that good food was my soul.

It's true though, Thanksgiving and then Fourth of July were always my favorite holidays.  I loved Thanksgiving not only for the food and family but because it ushered in the most magical time of the winter.  So when I started thinking about Thanksgiving (which, let's just say really snuck up on us), I started thinking about breakfast.  Sure, we'll be at Mom and Dad's for the holiday, but in the morning, it will just be John and I.  Christmas always starts with a huge breakfast, so why shouldn't Thanksgiving?

Just because we're indulging in the evening, doesn't mean we can't have our own indulgence and give thanks together - just the two of us.  This year I'm thankful that our family has so much - love, support, a roof over our heads, and food in our bellies.  The last few weeks have made me thankful for those little things.  We are surrounded by family who loves us, cares about us, and would go to the ends of the earth to take care of us, if needed.  And, of course, we feel the same about all of them.  What better way to start the day than giving thanks together as a family, before you get caught up in "the turkey's STILL frozen", "I ran out of cranberries", you know...all the normal sounds of a Thanksgiving holiday!
Pumpkin Pie Waffles with Cinnamon Whipped Cream (adapted from The Wicked Whisk)
Serves:  6 (12 waffles, 1/4 cup whipped cream)

Waffle Batter*:
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 cup 100% pumpkin
1 3/4 cups seltzer

Cinnamon Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the waffle iron and spray with cooking spray (according to manufacturer's directions).  Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice until combined in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, combine butter, eggs, and pumpkin.  Pour the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients and add seltzer.  Whisk until just combined.  Pour about 1/3 cup of the batter into each side of the waffle pan (we have a 2-square waffle pan, so adjust per pan and manufacturer's directions).  Cook thoroughly according to directions and remove.  Then, re-spray the pan if necessary and continue until all waffles are made.

To make the cinnamon whipped cream, beat the heavy whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form.  Add the cinnamon and continue beating until completely combined, and peaks are slightly more distinct (when you pull up the beaters, the peaks should stay).  You can make the whipped cream ahead of time; just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in the fridge until you're ready to use (if you do this a day in advance, you will probably have to lightly beat the mixture again to get the desired consistency). 

Top the waffles with cinnamon whipped cream right before serving.  Serve immediately. 

*We love these seltzer waffles because they are so light!  Which is a great way to indulge without overindulging before the big meal.  However, if you want to make more traditional waffles, check out my other waffle recipe - follow the exact same instructions but add the pumpkin when you add the oil!  Easy!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Thursday, November 15, 2012

Foods from Chile

Before we begin...I still have a GREAT giveaway going on now...please take a second and hop on over to enter! 

By now you know how I get myself into some crazy situations right?  Well nothing more crazy than what I'm doing tonight!!!  As many of you know, I have made many wonderful friends from contest cooking...with Karen at Savoury Table and Laurie at Inspired Cooking just to name two.

Well one such wonderful contester is also a star blogger in her own right, Lisa over at Snappy Gourmet.  Besides being a blogger, she is a mom, and the type of woman that you know you could just sit down with over a few glasses (or, bottles) and know you're in for a real treat...

When she told me about the Foods from Chile dinner I immediately wanted to know how I could go.  When she told me that they were in need of one more hostess, I was like, "where do I sign".  So, Sunday (yes, only 4 days ago), she sent me to the Hungry Goddess who told me the scoop.  They are having 10 blogger dinners across the country...find out about all the other parties going on here! the last minute, they needed a NYC blogger to host one more. 

Since then I have learned Chile is the #2 exporter in the WORLD for salmon and a number of other delicious products.  The best part?  Berries, avocados, and all my favorite summer foods are #nowinseason in Chile...while we're in the winter!  They are committed to being organic, reducing their carbon emissions, and getting the consumers the best most delicious products possible in order to aid our berry cravings!  Check out the awesome menu we're having on the left!

Some fun facts about Chile
- Capital: Santiago
- Currency:  Chilean Peso
- Flag:  Same colors as the USA (see above)!
    Do you remember what I said above?!  I get myself into the craziest things.  John went into the shower, all this went down, and next thing you know...John gets out of the shower and I tell him we're having a dinner in our TINY apartment for 15 people we have never met. His face was priceless.  Then we started discussing logistics and realized it was easier all around if we went to my mom's instead.  And she graciously agreed to be my co-host (sort of...she is joking about hiding in the kitchen like the hired help!).

    Regardless, we're in for a great time with Gina from Skinnytaste, Tara from Secrets of a Momaholic, Kristina from the Daily Dish / Better Recipes, and Audrey from Plays with Food!  Oh, and me of course!  Wine, food from Chile, and me!  What more could you want?!

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Sassy Sweets: Cinnamon Cream Puffs with Pumpkin Cream

    I have some exciting news for you all and I wanted to share it with you right away.  Do you remember my Hodgson Mills Pastabilities Contest from the summer?  Even though I didn't win, John and I just fell in love with the Hodgson Mills products.  I was thrilled when they asked me to enter their "Have a GRAIN Holiday Recipe Contest".  CLICK HERE to sign up for their catalogue.  I promise you will love their stuff as much as we do.  VERY EXCITING NEWS - Hodgson Mills is giving away one prize pack to a loyal blog reader.  Details at the end of the post.

    We were sent an amazing array of bread and pastry flours, whole wheat flour, blueberry muffin mix and gingerbread mix.   I made the blueberry muffins the minute I opened the box and they were delicious - who says you can't have convenience and health?!  Even better, they are going to hook up one of YOU with a prize pack like I got by CLICKING HERE or by entering my contest below.  If you don't want to wait, you can buy your Hodgson Mills products right now with this $1 off coupon.  You know John and I have used it already...
    I've got a few "Thanksgiving treats" up my sleeve for this week, starting with these delicious cream puffs.  I know what you're thinking - you expect ME to make cream puffs?!  Trust me.  Don't get turned off because you think cream puffs are fancy or they are too difficult.  To be honest, they were quite easy, fun, and you can make them ahead of time.

    In fact, I made these ahead of time, myself.  I left all the cream puffs in tact and made the filling and set that aside in the fridge.  The day I wanted to serve these, I cut them and filled them in the morning and then set them in the fridge in an airtight container.  A few hours later when we went to serve them, they were soft and delicious - the perfect "bite" of pumpkin pie! 
    Cinnamon Cream Puffs with Pumpkin Cream (adapted from Joy of Baking's Cream Puffs)
    Serves:  16 (48 mini cream puffs)
    Choux Pastry:
    1 cup Hodgson Mill's Pastry flour
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup cinnamon
    1/2 cup butter, cut in pieces
    1 cup water
    4 eggs, lightly beaten

    1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1 cup pumpkin puree
    1/4 cup pumpkin pie spice*

    Make the Choux Pastry:  Whisk together Hodgson Mill's Pastry flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Add water and turn the heat to medium-high and wait for the mixture to boil.  When the mixture starts a rolling boil, remove it from the heat and stir in the flour mixture.  Return it to low heat and continue to cook until the mixture is a big dough ball.  Remove from the heat.   Beat the mixture with an electric mixture on a low setting for a minute, until it is no longer hot to the touch.  Beat in the eggs (Joy of Baking says that the dough will separate and then come together, but mine stayed pretty much together) until fully combined.

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray two 13x9 cooking sheets with cooking spray.  Then, spoon out** the pastry into small bite-sized spheres (I made mine about 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches in diameter), keeping the dough about 2 inches apart so they don't rise into one another.  Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees and then decrease the temperature to 350 degrees.  Allow them to cook for another 20 - 25 minutes (when you touch the tops they should be hard, and make no indents).  Then, shut off the oven and open the oven door, letting the puffs cool slowly.  While they are cooling, make the filling.

    For the filling, beat together the heavy whipping cream and sugar until hard peaks form.  In a separate bowl, season pumpkin with pumpkin pie spices.  Gently fold the pumpkin into the whipping cream, careful to only just incorporate.

    Cut the puffs in half (they will be hollow inside so this takes a good knife and a careful hand).  Fill the bottom of the puff with pumpkin cream filling and place the puff top back on.  Serve immediately, or, place them in the fridge for a few hours where they will soften up (this way they taste more like the frozen ones you can buy...and I like them better this way!  They melt in your mouth!).

    *If you're like me, I "make my own" pumpkin pie spice by putting in 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon nutmeg, and 1/4 tablespoon each cloves and ginger.  I like the way it tastes and it gives it that pumpkin pie taste, without having to go out and buy another spice!

    **You can also pipe out the dough but, I am bad with a pastry bag...just trust me on this. Plus spoon?  Way easier!
    Until the next time my oven is on...

    Want to enter the giveaway?  It could not be easier; publicly follow the blog on Google Friend Connect, and leave me a comment with your favorite Thanksgiving dish!

    Each of the following will earn you one extra entry if you comment below:
    1.  Follow me on Twitter @danid320 and leave me a comment here that you follow.
    2.  Follow me on Pinterest and leave me a comment here that you follow.  
    3.  "Like" us on Facebook and leave me a comment here that you like us.  We like you too!

    Easy - 4 chances to win - 1 great prize.  I know you'll love it as much as we do.  The giveaway will end on December 1, 2012 at 11:59:59, EST and using my computer as the calculator.  I will choose the winner from
    Friday, November 9, 2012

    Stand Out Sides: Kale Chips

    Before he met me, John had never had kale.  We made a great soup (and by we, I actually mean John) earlier this week right in time for the first snowfall of the season!  In fact, this week now that we have turned the clocks back an hour and we are sitting in darkness a lot longer, I often come home to dinner at least partly started.

    I should start calling John my boyfriend chef, or Boychef?  Chefboy?  Chefman?  I don't think he'd like any of these!  Whatever...he is picking up a lot of the cooking slack now that it's dark and I'm working a lot.  This week especially by the time I get home at night, I am just exhausted.

    We used half of the kale in our soup.  The other half I decided to make kale chips.  Apparently everyone in the world has made these except me.  But since Chefboy was eating the kale out of the bag, I knew it would be a big hit when baked.  I love how these "chips" just melt away in your mouth.  The light salt makes them irresistible and we couldn't finish the bowl fast enough!
    Kale Chips (adapted from SkinnyTaste)
    Serves:  2
    4 cups kale
    cooking spray
    1 teaspoon salt

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the stems from the kale and place the kale in single layers on 2 cookie sheets.  Spray with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle salt over it.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and stir.  Place back into the oven for 3-5 minutes, until crisp, but not overly brown.  Watch them carefully.  Serve immediately.

    You can (supposedly) store them in an airtight container or ziploc bag for a few days on your counter, but we never have any leftover!

    Until the next time my oven is on...
    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

    Weeknight Dinner: Broccoli Mac & Cheese

    Once we turn the clocks back, I wake up a lot happier - when the sun is shining.  But, when you trudge home from work in the pitch black, you realize how quickly summer turns to autumn.  And now, how winter is coming.   Fast. 

    We are expecting a nor'easter this week (as if we haven't had enough crazy weather over the last 2 weeks).  And when I hear "snow" in the forecast, I start to crave comfort, warmth, and deliciousness. When the weather turns this chilly, usually the first comfort dish I make is my mom's macaroni and cheese. 

    Since John and I have been doing great at being healthy lately, I acquiesced to my craving and made macaroni and cheese.  But, I "healthified" it with lots of broccoli and less cheese than normal.  John didn't complain about our "healthy" version but we did grate some extra tablespoons of cheese over the top of each plate.  And, he admitted it was tasty. 
    Broccoli Mac & Cheese (adapted from SkinnyTaste)
    Serves: 6
    8 ounces elbow pasta
    1 tablespoon butter
    1/4 cup flour
    1 cup skim milk
    2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
    12 ounces broccoli florets (frozen pre-cut or cut and steam it yourself like we did!)
    1/4 cup breadcrumbs
    4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.  Transfer pasta into a large bowl.  In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and stir until clumpy.  Add milk and stir until fully smooth.  Add 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and continue stirring until fully melted and creamy.   Pour milk mixture into the pasta, and add remaining cheddar cheese.  Mix well.  Pour into a casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Cook 20-30 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.  Serve immediately.

    I love to double this recipe and stick one in the freezer for another night.  To serve, either defrost it beforehand and then bake for 30 minutes or bake 60-90 minutes to fully defrost and warm the middle of the casserole.

    Until the next time my oven is on...
    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Slow Cooking Supper: Boeuf Bourguignon

    I know, I know, Boeuf Bourguignon should be this all day, long process, which makes you feel like Julia Child on the cusp of your career in the back alleys of Paris.  Sorry that this dish doesn't allow you the same type of thrilling feeling.  But, I don't have a dutch oven.  PS - why does my boyfriend always laugh when I say dutch oven?  I know we've established most boys are about 5 years old but still...keep a lid on it.  Literally.

    Anyway, a dutch oven is a much-needed gift that I have been dropping hints about to my mom and Awa and basically anyone else that will listen.  Nothing like rubbing it in their faces by actually writing it down on a public forum for all to see.  Hope Santa (or anyone) is listening!  I think the ability to go from stovetop to oven is key for the many recipes that I salivate over, and wait, to make.

    One of these is Crepes of Wrath's Boeuf Bourguignon which when I saw it immediately got pinned, liked, favorited and pretty much whatever else one could do to a recipe online.  Well, when John's friend, P, was up here this weekend (working as a volunteer for Hurricane Sandy efforts), he stayed with us for one night.  After a week of trudging in the cold, wet, weather, I couldn't think of a better dish to give him than a hearty stew like this.  But, in the crockpot.  Julia Child will have to wait until after Christmas.
    Boeuf Bourguignon (adapted from Crepes of Wrath and here)
    Serves:  4
    2 pounds beef round steak, cubed
    5 tablespoons flour, divided
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    3 tablespoons butter, divided
    1 pint mushrooms, quartered
    2 1/2 cups beef stock
    1 pound white potatoes, cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces
    1 white onion, sliced
    3 carrots, diced into bite-sized pieces
    1 cup red wine
    1 sprig thyme
    3 sprigs rosemary
    1 bay leaf

    Combine the cubes of steak, 3 tablespoons of flour, salt, and pepper.  In a large saute pan, melt half the butter.  Add the steak and brown on all sides (3-5 minutes).  Transfer to the crockpot.  Melt the remaining butter in the same pan and cook the mushrooms until browned (5-7 minutes).  Transfer the mushrooms to the crockpot.  Add the beef stock to the pan and warm through.  Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour, making sure to scrape up all the brown bits left in the pan.  Transfer this mixture to the crockpot and add the potatoes, onion, carrots, and red wine.  Stir well.  Add the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf.  Cook on low for 5-6 hours, or on high for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until you are ready to serve.  Serve immediately.

    Until the next time my oven is on...

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Sassy Sweets: M&M Cookies

    Hurricane Sandy has really knocked us off-kilter this week.  I haven't been able to work because my building is without power and while I always start each day with the best of intentions, we get bogged down by the little, laundry, helping others.  We do some exercise; before you know it, it's 6 p.m., I haven't thought of a single thing to make for dinner and we're starving.

    Usually, my winter routine depresses me, get up before the sun, take the train, get to work, do not leave until after the sun has set; these few months I live in the darkness (as you can attest by my photos!) and I live for weekends.  So with the possibility of a day off, I couldn't wait to spend my days cooking yummy foods, eating yummy foods, and hanging out with John.  Nope; because we had to check each day if we were working, I could never plan anything wholeheartedly, which meant our days were filled with a lot of...not much.  I've decided that unless we're on a true vacation, I really need my routine. 
    The one bright spot was being home for Halloween and greeting all the cute little kids in our building who were happy to go door to door to hang out with their neighbors.  As the youngest couple (by far) in our building, it was so fun to see.  Cute costumes, cute kids, and a chance to get to know our neighbors.  Can't turn that down!  Of course, though, I have a ton of leftover Halloween candy.  What to do but to make some cookies.
    M&M Cookies (adapted from my chocolate chip cookie recipe)
    Serves:  12 (24 cookies)
    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup white sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1 egg
    1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1 cup M&Ms

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar, until fluffy.  Add vanilla and egg.  Beat well.  Slowly beat in flour and baking soda, until well combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and half of the M&Ms.  Portion out the cookies evenly (about 2 tablespoons per cookie) and place 1-3 M&Ms on the tops of each.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the bottom of the cookies are a golden brown.  Let cool and serve.

    To store, place in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

    Until the next time my oven is on...
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