Friday, December 19, 2014

Marsala Beef Stew

Welcome to winter, the nights are longer, colder, but the opportunities for delicious hearty food now beckon.  I love this recipe. It's a twist on a classes beef stew recipe, that utilizes a slow cooker. There are a few extra steps but they make the dish well worth it in the end. It becomes a melt in your mouth savory bite.


Marsala Beef Stew

10 servings
30-45 minutes to prep
7.5 hours in slow cooker
·       2-3 lbs. of Stew Meat (chopped into pieces)
·       1 Cup of Carrots (peeled and chopped)
·       16 oz. Mushrooms (chopped)
·       1 Cup of Parsnips (peeled and chopped)
·       1/2 Cup Marsala Wine plus 2 Tbs. (divided)
·       2 tsp. Salt
·       1 tsp. pepper
·       5 cloves of Garlic (minced)
·       2 Cups Beef Stock
·       3 Tsp. Flour
·       1 Tsp. Dried Thyme
·       3 Tsp. Olive Oil (divided)
·       1 Large Onion Chopped
·       2 Tsp. Tomato Paste
·       1 Tsp. Kitchen Bouquet

Set up your slow cooker and set it on low heat. I use a medium sized slow cooker. This may be a bit much if you have a mini slow cooker. If so just cut recipe in half. Heat up a Tsp. of olive oil in a deep saute pan and brown your meat. You may need to do it in batches, take your time and feel free to add more oil. Add browned meat as first layer to slow cooker.

Add another Tsp. of Olive oil and brown mushrooms. Make sure to not crowd the mushrooms in the pan or they won't brown. (Thank you Julia Child for that piece of advice). Feel free to also do these in batches. Add mushrooms as next layer in Slow Cooker. Then caramelize your chopped onions in final Tsp. of Olive Oil.  Add onions to slow cooker. Using the remaining oil in the saute pan, add garlic and saute for 1 minutes. Then add tomato paste and stir until it melts in. You'll know it when you see it.  Add thyme, 1/2 cup of Marsala Wine and Beef Stock. Simmer for 5-6 minutes until it looks like it's coming together.

While mixture is simmering, add layers of parsnips and carrots to slow cooker on top of the beef and other veggies. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Then pour the sauce mixture on top.  Cook in slow cooker for 7-8 hours.

After meat is done cooking in slow cooker, turn dial to Warm. Take deep saute pan back out and add a strainer to it. Strain all the broth from the slow cooker into the saute pan. Return everything back to slow cooker and allow to sit on Warm setting.  Heat up broth on stove under medium heat.  Ladle out a cup or so of the broth into a bowl. Add flour, Kitchen Bouquet and 2 Tsp. of Marsala wine to bowl. Beat in until smooth. Add back to simmering broth on stove and stir until it comes together.

Toss back into slow cooker with meat and veggies. I served it with salad and crusty bread.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Roasted Chicken Thighs and Vegetables

The temperature is quickly dropping here in the Greater-Philadelphia Area.  So I'm excited to now share with you some hearty winter dishes that I've lined up.  This is a time consuming dish but relatively easy to make.


Roasted Chicken Thighs and Vegetables

4-5 servings
10 minutes to prep
2 hours to cook
·       5 Chicken Thighs
·       2 Tsp. Sugar
·       7 Large Carrots, peeled and chopped
·       7 Large Parsnips, peeled and chopped
·       ½ tsp. Pepper
·       2 tsp. Sea Salt
·       3 Tsp. Olive Oil
·       3 Tsp. Butter 
·       1 Cup Chicken Broth
·       1 Cup Water

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. In a deep baking dish, I used a 9 by 12 inch pan.  Layer the carrots and parsnips on the bottom.  Sprinkle 1 tsp of sea salt and 3 Tsp. of olive oil and toss together. Then add chicken broth, butter, and sugar.  Roast in the oven for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, pull out pan and add Chicken thighs.  Sprinkle remaining sea salt and pepper on top of thighs.  Add dish back to oven and cook for 60-75 minutes while occasionally basting the skin on top.  

Chicken will be ready when skin puffs up and looks browned.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash w/Cranberries

 The Holidays are fast approaching, and it's nice to trot out fabulous roasts and hams.  However side dishes can get a bit boring quickly.  Mashed potatoes and green beans are wonderful selections, but not everyone enjoys them so it's nice to have a back up just in case.
This is a simple and easy side that you can roast ahead of time and heat up.  Or it works as a main dish if you have a vegetarian group. Plus this dish is a big hit if you need to bring something to a dinner party.

Roasted Butternut Squash w/Cranberries

8 servings
5 minutes to prep
45-60 minutes to cook
·       5-6 cups of diced Butternut Squash
·       1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
·       1/2 Cup Cranberries
·       1 Tsp. Sea Salt
·       1 tsp. pepper
·       3 Tsp. Olive Oil

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Peel and dice your butternut squash if not already prepped.

Lay out in pan and sprinkle brown sugar and sea salt across it.  Drizzle olive oil on top and toss to combine.  Then evenly cover top with cranberries.

Roast for 45-60 minutes.  If squash doesn't look like it's cooking evenly, pull out after 30 min and mix up with a spoon to redistribute.

Serve as a side or a main dish.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding

The Holidays are coming up which means there will be loads and loads or festivities and events to attend. The crazy part is sometimes you have to make something to bring with you. While you can always grab store made items. This is an easy to put together Holiday Dessert Recipe that you can use.
Bread Pudding is an easy but also delectable dessert to put together the day before an event. It’s also a great way to use up eggs and stale bread.

Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding

12-14 servings
10 min Prep time
40 minutes to cook
  • 18-20 slices of White Bread (stale bread works best)
  • 1 ½ Cups Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1 tsp. Orange Oil
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 Cup White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a 9 in pie pan. Dice bread slices into small cubes.

In a large bowl combine eggs, milk, orange juice, sugar, vanilla, orange oil, and salt together. 

Slowly add the bread cubes and mix until bread absorbs all of the liquid. 

Add cranberries and white chocolate chips to the bread mixture and slowly fold to evenly distribute. Then add bread mixture to pie pan and pat down lightly. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Slow Cooker Bell Pepper and Tortellini Soup

We’re getting to that fabulous point of fall when it’s finally cool enough out for oodles and oodles of soup.  I love Soup.  I’ll pretty much try any kind.  This combination of veggies and tortellini makes great lunches for my husband and I to take to work with us.  You can also add some Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper Flakes to spice it up if you’re feeling adventurous.   

Bell Pepper and Tortellini Soup

2 servings
5 minutes to prep
12 minutes to cook
·       1 ½ Cups Diced Yellow Bell Peppers
·       1 Cup Diced Onion
·       2 ½ Cups Frozen or Dried Tortellini
·       2/3 Cup Celery
·       1 Can of Northern Beans
·       4 Cups of Chicken Broth
·       3 Cloves Garlic Diced
·       1 ½ Cup Butternut Squash
·       1 tsp. Salt
·       4 Tsp. Parmesan Cheese 

Ready Slow Cooker, set heat to high.  Add onion, bell peppers, celery, beans, chicken broth, garlic, salt, and butternut squash.  

Cook on High for 4 hours.  Then add tortellini and cook for an additional half hour.

Serve with a sprinkle of the Parmesan Cheese on top.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Football Finger Foods!

It’s my husband’s favorite time of year.  No not fall or Thanksgiving... Football season.  That heart-breaking season for Philadelphia residents, where they get their hopes up at the beginning and begin to denounce players and coaches by week 12.  Every year I get to hear the cheering or screaming and look for new food to make.  This year I figure I’d try to share some of the food, which keeps me from going crazy this time of year.

The first recipe works with the Empanada dough I blogged about last spring.  This is an easy recipe that does take time to make, but you can either freeze the uncooked empanadas or serve all 20 or so of them.  I baked half and popped half in the freezer for next week’s Monday Night Football.  This is also an awesome way to use up leftover chicken.  

Chicken and Mushroom Empanadas

10 servings (2 empanadas a serving)
30 min to prep
20-25 minutes to bake

·       1 batch of Empanada Dough
·       2 cups of Mushrooms
·       2 Chicken Breasts (cooked)
·       ½ package of Taco Seasoning
·       1 cup of Mozzarella Cheese
·       2 Tsp. of Olive Oil
·       1 Egg

The Empanada dough should be resting in your refrigerator for an hour or two when you pull it out.  Begin to sauté the mushrooms in olive oil in a pan on the stovetop. Brown the mushrooms on both sides.  Don’t crowd them; spread them out over an even surface to brown.  They won’t brown if crowded.  

In a bowl add chicken, seasoning, cheese, and mushrooms together and mix.  Take out two cookie sheets and add a sheet of parchment paper to each.  Roll out small balls of Empanada dough; it should be about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.  There should be enough dough for twenty of them or so.  Take a rolling pin and roll out each dough ball and fill with a couple of Tsp. of filling.  Pinch the sides closed and add pastry to the cookie sheet.  After each pastry has been completed you have two options, to freeze them for later or to cook them all now.  I did half and half. To freeze them, simply put cookie sheet into freezer for 10 minutes or so.  Pull out and them pop pastries into a freezer bag, label and store for up to 3 months.

Or pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and break an egg into a small bowl and beat to create an egg wash.  With a small brush coat each pastry with egg wash.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned on top.

Wings are a main staple in almost any household during football season.  I’m told I don’t make them quite right because I prefer barbecue sauce to hot sauce.  However, this combination of a dry rub with barbecue sauce was incredibly good.  Let me know what your favorite wing flavor is in the comments.

Barbecue Chicken Wings

5 servings
10-15 minutes to prep
25-30 minutes to cook
·       10 Whole Wings
·       1 Cup BBQ Sauce (divided)
·       ½ tsp. Mustard Seed
·       ¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
·       ½ tsp. pepper
·       1 tsp. salt
·       1 tsp. Garlic powder
·       1 tsp. Paprika

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Ready a cookie sheet.  I like to put foil down on mine.
Mix mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, pepper, salt, garlic powder, and paprika in a bowl.  

In a separate bowl add chicken wings.  Sprinkle spices on top or wings and mix thoroughly.  

Spread the wings out on the cookie sheet.  Spread ½ cup of barbecue sauce with a small brush evenly over the wings.  Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until brown on top and crispy on the edges.

After taking them out of the oven, evenly coat remaining ½ cup of barbecue sauce over the wings.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Spicy Honey Pork Tenderloin

Second post for this crazy week.  I work crazy hours because of my job.  This also only allows me to really have a sit down meal with my husband 2-3 times a week.  We always try to have a sit down meal with no screens and talk about our day or the last couple of days.  My husband Tom is a carnivore and enjoys dinners with meat more than vegetarian fare.  So I debuted this recipe to suit his tastes and it was a home run.   This is an easy recipe that he likes and can easily replicate when I’m not home to cook.   

Spicy Honey Pork Tenderloin

4 servings
2-3 hours to marinade
30 minutes to cook
·       1-2 lbs. Pork Tenderloin
·       2 Tsp. Honey
·       ¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
·       ¼ tsp. Pepper
·       ½ tsp. Salt
·       2 tsp. Garlic Powder
·       3 Tsp. Olive Oil

Mix honey, cayenne, pepper, salt, oil, and garlic powder in a small bowl.  

Ready pork in a plastic bag and add marinade.  Allow to sit in the refrigerator for 2-3 Hours.  

Preheat oven to 375 degree.  Put pork on a glass dish and roast for 25-30 minutes.  Until fat is crispy on top and edges are brown.  

Serve with a small salad or roasted veggies.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jewish Apple Cake

Last week was an insanely busy week involving sports photography, pouring rain, cold winds, and long hours.  Since I have more time and energy this week, I decided to post two entries.  Today, the first is a fabulous dessert that will warm anyone up this time of year.
This is hands down my favorite dessert of all time.  I remember being a small child and eating this at my Grandparents’ home.  My Oma would make this cake for special occasions or just for family get  togethers.  It’s so unbelievably good that it can work with almost any kind of meal or coffee break. 
Jewish Apple Cake is a dense moist cake filled with cinnamon and apples.  I was surprised to learn it’s called Jewish, not because of any kind of religious affiliation, but rather because it contains no dairy.  I could not find a Bundt pan in my home so instead made it with two smaller 5 by 9 inch pans.  I may now have to invest in a Bundt pan because of out delicious it turned out. It turned out to be so delicious that I'm definitely making it again this week.

Jewish Apple Cake

2 loaves
20 min Prep time
65 minutes to cook
·       3 Cups of Flour
·       2 Cups and 4 Tsp. of Granulated Sugar (divided)
·       4-5 Apples
·       3 tsp. Baking Powder
·       4 Eggs
·       1tsp. Salt
·       2 tsp. Cinnamon
·       1 Cup Vegetable Oil
·       ½ Cup Orange Juice
·       1Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease both 5 by 9 pans and set aside.  Peel, core, and thinly slice apples, then toss with cinnamon and 4 Tsp. of sugar.  

Mix flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Then mix all wet ingredients in another bowl.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, incorporating a cup or so at a time. Mix thoroughly until smooth.  

Pour a layer of batter in each of the 5 by 9 pans.  Add a layer of apples on top.  Then top off with more batter and top with the remaining apples. 

Bake for 60-65 minutes.

Or you can wait until it's browned on top.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Baked Salmon with Roasted Bok Choy

Salmon is a versatile and flavorful super-food that has gotten a lot of hype in the last few years.   It’s a great food that’s beneficial to a number of health concerns and provides a whopping 40 grams of protein per 4 oz. I love salmon, but I was a bit apprehensive to try making it a home.  This is an easy recipe to try out salmon for the first time at home.  I also added the Bok Choy to this for the added crunch and freshness for the dish. 

Brown Sugar and Garlic Baked Salmon

2 servings
5 minutes to prep
12 minutes to cook
·       6-8 oz. Salmon
·       2 Tsp. Brown Sugar
·       1 Tsp. Olive Oil
·       3 Garlic Cloves (crushed)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Ready a small baking dish.  Mix together the brown sugar, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl and mix together.  

Spread mixture evenly on top of the salmon.

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes or so.  Until the brown sugar bubbles up and the edges are crispy.  

Serve with veggies.

Roasted Bok Choy

2 servings
5 minutes to prep
6-8 minutes to cook
·       1 Head of Bok Choy
·       3 Tsp. Vegetable Oil
·       1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
·       2 tsp. Soy Sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together oil, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce.  

Ready a large baking dish.  Wash and cut Bok Choy off of stem, then evenly arrange in baking dish.  Use a brush and brush mixture evenly over the Boy Choy.  Making sure to get both the stems and leaves.  

Roast in the oven for 6-8 minutes until leaves are just starting to crisp along edges.