Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nana's Famous Beer Roast

This roast is one that my mom makes at least a couple times a month. It is a favorite of the entire family and we always have it for family get-togethers. The original recipe comes from my Nana and there are many people who associate this dish with her, which makes it that much more special to me. One of the best parts about this roast (besides how delicious it is!) is the smell that wafts through the house as it cooks all day. By the time the roast is done, we're all standing around the stove salivating and counting the seconds. Well today, I finally attempted to make my Nana's famous beer roast. It was the 4-year anniversary of the day my husband and I met, so it was a special day. It has also been snowing on and off here all day, so a warm, comforting meal sounded perfect to us. I wasn't sure if I should post this recipe, since it feels like a sacred family dish, but it's too good not to share!

Nana's Famous Beer Roast
*From Nana and my Mom!

1 3-5 pound beef roast, (bottom round or chuck)
3 bottles of beer (we used Session, Hubby's favorite)
1 packet beefy onion soup mix (I grind the onions because I prefer a smooth texture for the gravy)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon beef bouillon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1-1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
Preheat oven to 250º. Place the roast in a Dutch oven. Add onion powder, beef bouillon, and pepper.
Pour on the beefy onion soup mix and the Worcestershire sauce.
Add the beer.
Cover and cook for 6-8 hours. The meat will fall apart when it's done.

For the gravy:
Remove the meat from the cooking liquids and wrap in foil and set aside. Place the Dutch oven with the liquids on the stove over medium-high heat. In a small cup, add 1/4 cup cornstarch and an equal amount of water. Mix well until all lumps are gone and whisk into the cooking liquids. Heat to bubbly until the gravy thickens. You might need to do the cornstarch slurry more than once to thicken it enough. (I usually wind up doing it twice.)

Serve the gravy over mashed potatoes or rice and make sure to cover your meat with it too. Enjoy this wonderful family dish!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

 I have been searching for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe and this one might be it. The flavor is perfect and it's the right amount of chocolate chips, which means yum! My only problem was that the cookies spread, so I read up on how to prevent that from happening. Next time I'll use a cooled cookie sheet (a hot one makes them spread faster) or I'll shape the dough balls on the cookie sheet and refrigerate it for 10 minutes or so before putting it in the oven. Regardless of the thinness of the cookie, these were wonderful; the perfect combination of chewy and crispy. I sent them with Hubby to work since it's snowing and the boys will probably stay in the office for the most part tonight. Cops love cookies!
Chocolate Chip Cookies
*From Sing For Your Supper

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted and slightly cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325º. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.
Cream together the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until light and fluffy.
Blend in vanilla extract, egg, and egg yolk until fully incorporated. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just mixed.
Stir in chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Roll teaspoon-sized balls out onto the baking sheet. (At this point, a quick 10 minutes in the fridge should stop the cookies from spreading). Bake for 10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Enjoy!

Baked Mac and Cheese

I've been on a mission to organize my cooking magazines lately. I clip out the recipes and ideas I like and then file them in a binder with an index. The stack of magazines has been dramatically reduced and I feel like I've really accomplished something. Plus, it's been really fun to come up with new ideas and recipes from these sources. This recipe is from Taste of Home and it was really yummy. I, unfortunately, changed the Velveeta cheese to a mix of colby and jack cheeses. I have come to realize that Velveeta, while a processed cheese, is the key to making re-heatable mac and cheese. It makes the cheese stick so that the leftovers aren't bland and uninteresting. Next time I will definitely break out the Velveeta!
Baked Mac and Cheese
*Slightly adapted from Taste of Home

4 cups uncooked pasta (I used radiatori)
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup flour
4 cups 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup cubed Velveeta (I used a colby and jack mix, but next time I'll stick with the Velveeta!)

Cook pasta according to package directions to just al dente. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add milk and stir in the salt, pepper, ground mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes until thickened. Stir in cheeses until melted.

Drain pasta and stir in the cheese sauce. Transfer to an ungreased 2-quart baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350º for 20-25 minutes until bubbly. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chicken, Leek, and Shallot Pot Pie

Have you ever been intimidated by a certain fruit or veggie in the produce section of your grocery store? Well, that's how I felt about leeks until we had them in what felt like every dish while in France. Leeks are a staple there, so every time I eat them, I can close my eyes and pretend that we're back in a café eating quiche full of this mild onion-flavored veggie.
For Hubby and I, France means happiness, so I thought a dish with some French flavors would be perfect for our Valentine's Day dinner. We loved this turkey pot pie, so I adapted it using chicken, shallots, and leeks to make this delicious, filling, and slightly fancy main dish. It was a definite hit!
And it really did make us think of France, which made for a very romantic dinner. And then he went to work . . . Eh, the life of a cop's wife.
Anyway, bottom line: This dish is yummy! And it's a really lovely presentation, so it would make a great dish for a dinner party too!

Chicken, Leek, and Shallot Pot Pie
*By me!

3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 refrigerated pie crusts, thawed (let them sit on the counter while you make the filling)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
1 1/2 cups Southern style cubed potatoes, thawed and warmed in the microwave
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
Heat oven to 425º. Slice leeks and mince shallot.
 Melt a little bit of butter in a skillet and add leeks and shallots. Sauté for about 5 minutes on medium heat, until tender. Add in minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute longer, then remove from heat and set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour to make a roux. Cook for 3 minutes, whisking frequently. Gradually add in milk and chicken broth, whisking to combine.
Stir in seasonings and cook until bubbly and thickened. 
 Add in chicken, warmed potatoes, leeks, shallots, and garlic. Stir to combine.
 Roll out one pie crust into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Press into the bottom of the dish and spoon the filling onto the crust.
 Top with the second crust, pinch and flute the edges. You can use any excess crust to decorate the top of the pie. Cut several slits in the top of the crust. Separate the yolk from one egg and discard. Brush the top of the crust with the egg white.
 Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. During the last 15-20 minutes cooking, cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent excess browning. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

I've been a little under the weather lately, so cooking has taken a bit of a backseat. I made so much food for our SuperBowl party that Hubby was set for a few days, which was nice for me. However, a few nights ago, I had a major craving for creamy tomato-y pasta. Enter Pioneer Woman! Cravings for cream and pasta means that of course I would turn to her. And she didn't disappoint (although that is no surprise). We ate this recipe for days. Hubby said it was something you would happily order and devour in any nice restaurant. The flavors are deep, layered, and absolutely delicious. This is my number one pasta dish ever. And it's so simple to make! So what are you waiting for? Go make this now!

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce
*Slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 whole medium onion, finely diced (I used a shallot, my favorite)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dash of sugar, to taste
1 cup heavy cream
Grated parmesan cheese, to taste (I used about 1/2 cup)
Fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 pounds fettuccine (I only had 1 pound, which worked just fine)

Heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Pour in tomato sauce and add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. I used 1/2 teaspoon of salt, about 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir and cook over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

Remove sauce from heat and stir in cream. Add cheese to taste, then check seasonings. Thin with pasta water if necessary. I used about 1/2 cup of the water to thin mine. Stir in cooked pasta and chopped basil and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Snickerdoodle Cookie Dip

Hubby is a huge fan of snickerdoodles, as I mentioned in the pumpkin snickerdoodle post. When I started making out the menu for our SuperBowl party, I asked him if he'd like me to try making this dip. His answer: an emphatic YES! We tasted it before we added the cinnamon and it really did taste just like cookie dough (think chocolate chip cookie dough without the chocolate chips). However, I think 2 tablespoons of cinnamon was too much, so next time I'll start with 1 tablespoon and work my way up if necessary. I had a gut feeling about the amount of cinnamon, but I'm still working on actually listening to my gut when cooking! Is tummy grumbling the same as a gut feeling?

Snickerdoodle Cookie Dip
*From How Sweet It Is (my new FAVORITE blog!)

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cinnamon (again, next time I'll start with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and work my way up because 2 was too much)

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. 
Add brown sugar and whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture starts to bubble. Set aside to cool and whisk in vanilla extract.
Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar for 60 seconds. 
With mixer on low speed, add in brown sugar and butter mixture. Mix until combined. 
Add in your cinnamon.
Mix until combined.

Serve with fruit, Nilla wafers, or even pretzels. Enjoy!