Monday, September 30, 2013

It's a Roast!

I usually do not cook a roast of  beef  until Fall and Winter, this kind of meal fits those two seasons.  The meal just warms the heart when you eat it, it's a stick to your ribs kind of meal and very satisfying.  My mother taught me how to make a tender and juicy beef roast a long time ago, and I still make it "her way".  It's always a favorite at my dinner table.  Recipe below.

I used a chuck roast for this recipe, but any roast of beef will do.  The cheapest cut of beef will be tender.  Season with salt and pepper and sear in olive oil on both sides.  
Add carrots, celery and onions.  All roasted up and half eaten already!  I served my roast with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and homemade gravy.
And don't forget the Wondra to make the no-lump  gravy!

Roast Beef with Roasted Vegetables

2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 - 2 to 3 lb roast of beef, I used a chuck roast
1 cup of water
2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet Browning Sauce
2 Tbsp of vegetable flakes
2 stalks of celery, cut on the diagonal, in 2 inch pieces
2 cups of carrots, I used bagged fresh carrots
1 whole onion, peeled and quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Pour the oil into a dutch oven, and heat on medium high.  I use a cast iron dutch oven, if you don't have one, use a heavy lidded pan or a roasting pan that can go into the oven. Season the beef with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Sear the beef in the hot oil on both sides until browned. Turn off the heat and add the water, browning sauce, vegetable flakes, celery, carrots and onion.   Put a lid on the roasting pan and put into the oven.  Roast for 2 1/2 hours. When ready to serve remove the beef and vegetables from the pan to a serving platter and cover with foil.  Make the gravy.

Gravy Recipe 
Pan drippings from the beef
2 Tbsp Gold Medal Wondra Quick Mixing Flour
1/4 water

Place the pan with the beef drippings on medium heat on top of the stove.  Mix the flour with the water, and gradually stir into the beef drippings.  Stir constantly and scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Heat for about 2 minutes until boiling.  Makes about 1 cup of gravy.

TIP: You can also roast potatoes in the pan.  Just cut and quarter 6 potatoes and put in the pan with the other vegetables.  Everything roasted in the pan together makes the flavor so good!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Delicious And Easy Chicken Sandwiches

I had to make a fast meal the other night for dinner, so I went to my freezer and found my old stand-by, Perfect Portion Perdue Chicken Breasts.  They were the Italian style flavor, so they were seasoned, and I was thinking "what could I do with them".  My brain sprung into action - bread them and make sandwiches.  My son works at an Italian bakery, we always have fresh rolls in the the house, so that part was taken care of.  Check out the Perdue Perfect Portions at you grocery store.  They come 5 to a pack, are individually wrapped, they come plain or seasoned, and I always find coupons for them online, you can' t beat that.  They are a staple in my house and I stock up when they go on sale.

Take the chicken breast out of the wrapping one at a time and bread them.  It can get a little messy since they are already seasoned, so I do it that way.  Have a plate of bread crumbs waiting and a clean plate to put the breaded chicken on.  Coat both sides of the seasoned chicken in the breadcrumbs.
Into a heated frying pan with a little olive oil, cook for about 6 -8 minutes on each side.  Get them nice and brown.  Drain on some paper towels.
 Slice up lettuce, tomato and onion.  I also served different cheeses with mine - Pepper Jack, Colby-Jack, Swiss and American Cheese.  Mayo, Honey Mustard, Barbeque Sauce and Hot Sauce are other condiments that are good on the chicken sandwiches.  Look's good, right! 
 I served the sandwiches with seasoned waffle fries and spicy ketchup.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookies

Christmas is on the horizon, so I thought I would try out a new recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies, one of the Christmas cookie tray staples.  I usually have a Christmas cookie making party (I have to get on that and start planning), I invite family and friends, we all bake our favorite cookies, then share them, and everyone goes home with a huge tray of assorted cookies.  In between all the baking, I serve a very nice lunch, with a festive table setting, and then it's right back to the baking.  Sometimes we are in the kitchen for 12 or more hours baking non-stop.  It's always fun and we get to spend time together.  Recipe for cookies is below.

A few of the ingredients.  I like JIF Peanut Butter I think it's smoother.  Mixed up and ready to be rolled.
Don't forget the parchment paper, it keeps cookies from sticking to the sheet.  All rolled and evenly spaced.
 Use flour to make your grid marks on top of the cookies. 
 Baked and ready to eat with a cold glass of milk.  They won't last long! 

 Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/2 cups of sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup of JIF Peanut Butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line your baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.  Put 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl, set aside to use later.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and peanut butter together.  Add the brown sugar and white sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add the egg and the vanilla and beat.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until all is combined.  Using 1 rounded tablespoon of dough for each cookie, roll into a ball by rolling it in the palms of your hands.  Place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. With tines of a fork, dipped in the tablespoon of flour, press crosswise one way on the cookie, and then over lay the other way, making a grid impression on the cookie.  Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a baking rack.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Tip: If you like peanuts, use 1 cup of chopped peanuts in the recipe, or roll the balls in the chopped peanuts and then flatten if you like, with the bottom of a glass.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Sweet Smell of Apples and Cinnamon

Everyone loves the smell of apples and cinnamon, especially this time of year.  There is something so comforting about those two aromas together.  It's a welcome home smell when you walk into the house, and something with apples and cinnamon has just been baked.  It's even better when you eat it, all warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.  My son was hankering for apple crisp so I made it today for dessert.  He is a true Fall born child.  He loves anything with pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, all of the things related to Fall.  Here is my recipe for Apple Crisp, Enjoy!

It's so simple, just start with a few ingredients.  Mix the apples with cinnamon and sugar.
Melt butter in a fry pan and add the apples.   Ummm.... look at them, all bubbly and caramelized!
 OK, lets get back to the ingredients - Mix the flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, butter and cinnamon and you have the topping.
 Spray your baking dish with cooking spray and load up those apples.
Spread the topping over the apples and bake.  Looks great and can't wait to eat it!
Up close, look at that crunchy topping.  I served mine with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and warm caramel sauce.

Apple Crisp
Cooking Spray
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 McIntosh apples
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dry oatmeal
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
Caramel Sauce

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.  Mix the cinnamon and the sugar together in a small bowl, set aside.  Peel, core and slice the apples and put into a medium bowl.  Pour the cinnamon sugar over the apples and mix well.  Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan over medium - high heat.  Add the apples to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring as they cook.  Into another medium size bowl add the flour, brown sugar, oatmeal,, cinnamon and the cold butter.  With a pastry blender, or a fork, incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients.  You can also do this with clean hands, if that works better for you.  When the apples are ready, pour them into the baking dish and spread the topping over them.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until topping is browned.  Serve with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with caramel sauce.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Mom's Homemade Vegetable Soup

Another one of my favorite days growing up, was when my mom would make her homemade vegetable soup.  I can remember the big soup pots, yes pots, cooking on the stove and the house smelling fantastic when I walked in from the winter cold.  She would make pots of soup, because everyone in the family wanted it.  My mother would call everybody, family and friends, and told them if they wanted soup to come and get it!  She was a generous person, even though she didn't have a lot, and would share with everyone.  My sister and I both make her soup today and both of our families enjoy it just like we did.  What a hearty meal, she always had a big basket of warm Italian bread and butter to go along with it.  Bless you mom, and thanks for passing on a favorite to all of us.  Recipe below.

Start with beef short ribs, shin meat and soup bones.  Add them to a large soup pot seasoned with salt and pepper.
Boil them, then remove from pot.
Next step is your vegetables, clean and chop them up.
 Add to the stock in the pot and then add the tomatoes.
Cook up pasta if you are putting it in your soup.   This soup is delicious!

Homemade Vegetable Soup
8 cups of water
1 beef soup bone
2 beef short ribs or shin meat
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 - Knorr Homestyle Beef Flavored Concentrated Stock cups
1/2 large onion, diced
4 ribs of celery, sliced (include leaves if you have them)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
6 potatoes, washed and unpeeled
1 - 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 - 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 - 14.5 oz. can of waxed beans (yellow beans), drained , or use fresh
1 - 32 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables (corn, green bean, lima bean, carrot and pea mix)
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp parsley
2 cups of any type small cut pasta, cooked, optional

Fill a large soup pot with the 8 cups of water.  On high heat, add the soup bone, short ribs /shin meat and the salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and cook the meat.  When the meat is cooked, remove the meat to a bowl and cool.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add the stock cups to the water and stir until melted.  Meanwhile, chop up the onions, celery, garlic, cabbage and potatoes then add to the stock in the pot and stir.  Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, yellow beans, frozen bag of mixed vegetables, oregano and parsley. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium - low.  Cut the cooled meat off the bones, trim any fat and chop into bite sized pieces.  Return to the pot with the bones. Cook for 3 hours, stir occasionally.  Remove all the bones from the pot and discard them.  If using pasta in the soup - thirty minutes before serving, cook the pasta and then stir into the soup.  If soup thickens just add water.

TIP:  This soup could also be made totally vegetarian.  Knorr has concentrated vegetable stock cups,  just omit the meat in the recipe.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Just a Little Cupcake

I am a really simple cook, meaning I make everyday food. I always try to use basic ingredients in anything I cook or bake.  If I don't have an ingredient, I will substitute it with something else.  I always have a baked dessert ready for after dinner, even if it's just cupcakes.  My family loves when I cook and bake, they are my best food critics.   The question of the day always seems to be "Are You Cooking Dinner", "What's For Dinner" and "What's for Dessert"?  I get phone calls all day long with these questions!  Dinner time in our house is non-traditional by today's standards, it's more like the 1950's, we eat dinner together, talk and catch up on our day.  My kids have always looked forward to sitting at the dinner table.  Generally, we do not sit in front of the TV and eat fast food.  The only fast food we really eat is take out pizza, which is rare because I make my own.  Kids grow up so fast and it's nice to see 20 year olds that still want to sit and eat with their parents and keep this tradition going.  I hope my husband and I instilled in our children that dinner time is important as a family, and carry on this tradition when they have families of their own.

Posted on by The Bee Skep | No comments

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Have You Ever Tried Watercress?

We have a new Farmer's Market in my town and it's fabulous.  From exotic foods to regular foods, every kind of fruit or veggie that you could ever want, and their prices are very reasonable, cheap.  The main focus of the market is fruits and veggies but it also serves as a grocery store, fresh fish market and Amish bakery.  I love shopping there, I never know what I am going to find.  Watercress has always been a favorite of mine, and my regular grocery store does not carry it.  Well, my Farmer's Market does as I found out yesterday.  I make a simple salad out of the watercress, it has a sweet, earthy taste to it and doesn't need much to enhance its flavor.  Watercress is loaded with vitamins, especially rich with vitamin C, and also minerals. Here is a tidbit for you -  Watercress is native to Europe and Asia, is a water plant that usually grows near streams, and is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans.

In a colander, carefully wash, trim the ends and then dry the watercress by placing it in a clean dishtowel.  Place in a salad bowl and add red onion.  You can stop there or you can add....  
 Tomatoes, cucumber or any other salad ingredients.  I don't like to overpower the watercress with too many vegetables.  Toss with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  A nice change up to regular old lettuce salads.

Watercress Salad

2 bunches of watercress, washed and drained dry
1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Be sure to wash the watercress before using!  Trim ends off the watercress and separate into a bowl. Add the onion and salt and pepper.  Mix the vinegar and oil together with a whisk.  Pour over the salad and toss. Makes 6 servings.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Laid Back Sunday Breakfast

We are big breakfast eaters in my family, especially on the weekends.   Getting up late and enjoying a great breakfast, that will carry us into dinner, is one of our favorite things to do.  We can go on with our day and not have to worry about being hungry for lunch.  Sunday we made Belgian waffles, home fries, maple flavored sausage links and hickory smoked bacon with orange juice and coffee - YUM! 

 My trusty waffle iron and the mix.  I use buttermilk pancake mix and follow directions on the box for waffles.
 Mix it up and spray the waffle iron with Pam.  Getting the sausages and home fries going.
 Easy and best way to cook bacon - Use a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and line up the bacon.  Cook slow, on 325 degrees until crispy.  Waffles are done!
Just need some syrup and breakfast is a wrap.