Sunday, December 29, 2013

Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Today, the high was not going to get above zero Fahrenheit, so I was looking for a comfort food type dinner.  Cooking Light had crock pot meals in their December issue, so I started with their beef stew and added my own twist.  I was happy with the results.


1 pound trimmed boneless chuck roasts cut into 2 inch cubes 
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 medium onions, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 12 ounce nut brown ale - I used a dark beer instead
1 cup merlot
1 1/4 cup beef stock
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, chopped into 2 inch cubes
1 pound baby carrots
1 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Heat skillet over medium high heat.  Sprinkle beef with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Add 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan and swirl to coat.  Cook beef until no longer pink.  Add this to the crock pot including the juices.

Add the rest of the oil to the skillet then add onions and garlic and cook until slightly brown.  Add beer, scraping pan to loosen brown bits.  Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup beef stock, remaining salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.  Carefully pour mixture on top of beef in the crock pot.  Add potatoes, carrots, thyme and bay leaves.  Stir to mix all ingredients  Cook on low for 5 hours.  I found at this point that I needed to add more liquid, so I added one cup of merlot wine.  Cook an additional hour.

Mix the remaining 1/4 cup beef broth with flour.  Whisk to mix well.  Pour into stew and cook for 15-30 minutes more until thickened.  Stir in mustard and vinegar, discard bay leaves and serve.

Browning Beef

Cooking up onions and garlic

Adding beer to onions and garlic mixture

Beef Stew in Crock ready to cook

Finish stick to your ribs beef stew.  Yum!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chicken Dragon Noodles

I was looking for a new recipe with a little spice.  I found one called dragon noodles, but also wanted some additional protein, so I added some chicken sautéed in garlic.  It hit the spot...for some added flavor, I recommend serving this dish with'll definitely keep your mouth warm on a cold winter night!


4 ounces cooked pasta, I used thin spaghetti
2 chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon garlic, diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, beaten
Dash of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Siracha sauce
2 green onions, chopped

 1/4 cup salsa

Cook pasta according to the package directions
While that is cooking, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar and Siracha sauce together.
In another pan, melt the butter and then add the beaten eggs.  Cook until eggs are done, then set side and cover to keep warm.  Next stir fry the garlic and chicken together until the chicken is no longer pink.  Add the cook pasta, pour the sauce mixture over the top and, if desired, add the salsa and green onions.  Mix and cook until everything is heats through and most of the liquid has evaporated.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer Treats

This pretzel treat is one that I've been making with my kids since they were very young.  The great thing about this no bake treat is that even toddlers can add Rudolph's red nose.  We usually get a bit silly and not all the reindeer my look the same, but that's part of the fun of working together.

The recipe is pretty simple and I like the combination of sweet and salty that this treat provides.


1 bag of red and green M & M's 
1 bag large pretzels
1 package of almond bark, melted

Lay all the unbroken large pretzels on parchment paper.  Create the "antler's you'll need by using the broken pretzel and breaking them into pieces that look like antlers or just an inch long piece of pretzel. 
Separate the M&Ms into red and green.  Melt the almond bark in a large measuring cup according to the package directions.

Now here's where the fun starts.  With a spoon, but almond bark in the three openings of the pretzels.  Have one person add antlers in the two upper openings and also add two green M&Ms for eyes below the antlers.  Add Rudolph's red nose in the lower opening.  Allow almond bark to harden and enjoy.
Lining up all the pretzels

Finished Reindeer

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sweet Potato Wedges

Sorry for the lack of posting lately; I just started a new job so there hasn't been a lot of time for cooking. Here is the recipe for a side dish to a dinner that I made a few weeks ago: Turkey Burgers with Cranberry-Apple Relish. The whole meal was amazing.

Sweet Potato Wedges

  • 2 medium/large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Season-All salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; then cut each half into thirds (lengthwise). 
  3. Place chopped potatoes into a bowl and mix with olive oil, Season-All, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. 
  4. Place coated potato wedges on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. 
  5. Bake for 10 minutes; turn potatoes and bake for 10-12 more minutes or until tender. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

White Bean and Pumpkin Bisque

OK, I'm still working on recipes to help use up my pumpkin.  This is a good dinner paired with fresh bread for a cold winter night...and we've had a few of these lately!


1 tablespoon butter
1 cup onions, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
dash of cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 can (15 ounces) cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup milk
2 cups pureed pumpkin (or 1 can pumpkin)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

Melt butter in  a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add onion and garlic.  Saute for 4 minutes or until lightly browned.  Add pepper and cumin, sauté an additional minute.  Stir in 1/2 cup stock scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Add remaining stock, beans, and pumpkin to a blender and process until smooth.  (I have a cuisinart hand blender so I actually blended everything in the large saucepan.)   Add to stock mixture to the saucepan and then add the rest of the ingredients except for the parmesan cheese.  Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.  Ladle into bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.
Soup's On!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Harvest Pumpkin Bread

I found another recipe from the Sprinfield, Il cookbook called Honest to Goodness.  This time, I was looking for something to help me us up my pumpkins that I'd been using for decorations for both Halloween and Thanksgiving.  I stuck pretty close to the original recipe this time, but did add vanilla and cut the amount of recommended nutmeg in half.  I'm not a big fan of raisins and Tim is not a big fan of nuts, so we left those ingredients out.  As you can see this recipe has plenty of options to cater to your specific tastes.


3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups pureed pumpkin (or canned pumpkin)
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (optional - I added)
2/3  cup water
2 cups chopped walnuts (optional - I did not add)
2 cups raisins (optional - I did not add)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the sugar and oil together.  Add eggs and pumpkin and mix well.  Add the rest of the ingredients  and mix well.   Pour batter into greased muffin tins (or use paper muffin wrappers).  Bake muffins for 22 minutes.    Makes 24 muffins.

Optionally, you can make two 9x5 loaves and bake for 1 hour or until done.


Eggs and oil creamed together

Adding the rest of the ingredients
Finished muffins

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey Burgers with Cranberry-Apple Relish

Another awesome recipe from Cooking Light magazine. We have made turkey burgers before but this is hands down our new favorite recipe for them. The cranberry apple relish had a nice flavor but the burgers could also be made without the relish. I made Sweet Potato Wedges to go with the burgers, which I will post the recipe for soon.

Turkey Burgers with Cranberry-Apple Relish

Ingredients for Cranberry-Apple Relish:
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 apple (chopped)
  • 1 tsp grated orange rind
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Ingredients for Turkey Burgers:
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs or Panko
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp sage (chopped if fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • Cooking spray
  • Blue cheese (or your choice of cheese)
Burger Toppings:
  • Buns
  • Spinach
  • Tomato (Sliced)
  • Onion (Sliced and carmelized if desired)
  • Barbeque sauce or ketchup 
  1. Place all cranberry-apple relish ingredients in a small food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped and set aside until serving. 
  2. Heat a small skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat. 
  3. Chop onion.
  4. Add chopped onion to skillet. Saute for 3-5 minutes until tender. 
  5. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, sage, pepper, salt, and ground turkey. Add onions last (so that they have time to cool) and combine them in to the turkey mix. 
  6. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and shape each into a patty that is approximately 4 inches in diameter. 
  7. Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. 
  8. Coat the skillet or grill pan with cooking oil and add the patties. 
  9. Grill for about 5 minutes on the first side, then flip and grill for 3 more minutes. Add the cheese to the top and cook for 2 more minutes until cheese is melted and turkey burger is cooked through. 
  10. Place burger on top of buns, top with cranberry-apple relish and any other desired toppings (spinach, tomatoes, onions, barbeque sauce).
The cranberry-apple relish

The turkey burgers

The full meal... turkey burger topped with cranberry-apple relish, sweet potato wedges, and steamed brussel sprouts