Sep 28, 2012

Bonjour, Beef Stew!

Okay, so wrapping our freezer friendly recipes this week, I would be remiss if I did not share this wonderful Provencal Beef Stew.  I'm reading Dearie- the latest Julia Child biography.  I like to picture she and Paul in a cosy Parisian bistro eating bowls of steaming fragrant stew, with lots of red wine, and stinky cheese for dessert.  So I'm craving this surprising Provencal Beef Stew- surprising with the kalamata olives, and a bright flavor from the inclusion of orange zest.  It gets even better as the flavors meld in the freezer.

From Cooks Illustrated The Best Make Ahead Recipe

Provencal Beef Stew
4 lbs boneless beef chuck eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, halved and cut into 1/8 inch slices
3/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 750 ml bottle dry red wine
2 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 pound carrots (about 6 medium), peeled and slice done inch thick)
3 ounces salt pork, tied tightly with kitchen twine
4 (3 inch long)strip of orange zest from 1 orange, cut into thin matchsticks
1 cup pitted nicoise olives, rinsed and chopped (you can sub kalamata olives)
4 medium garlic cloves, sliced thin
3 anchovy filets, rinsed and minced
5 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
2 bay leaves
1 (14.5 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and cut int 1/2 inch dice
3 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

1.  adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and the oven to 325 degrees.  Pat the beef dry and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large dutch oven over medium high that until just smoking.  Add half the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 7-10 minutes, reducing the heat if the pot begins to scorch.  Transfer the browned beef to a medium bowl.  Repeat with one more tablespoon of oil and the remaining beef, and transfer to the bowl.

2.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoon of oil to the pot, and heat until it's shimmering.  Add the onions, the mushrooms, a teaspoon of salt, and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the wine, scraping up any browned its.  Whisk in the broth until smooth and bring to a simmer.

3.  Stir in the browned meat, carrots, salt pork, orange zest, half the olives, garlic, anchovies thyme bundle, and bay leaves.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover,place the pot in the one, and cook until the meat is just tender and the sauces is thickened and glossy- 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours.

4.  Remove the salt pork, thyme and bay leaves.  Stir in the remained olives and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the tomatoes and spindle with parsley.

To Store:  let the stew cool, uncovered at room temperature, for 45 minutes.  Transfer to airtight containers and freeze.

When reheating, shred the beef with a fork.  Serve over quinoa, couscous, or egg noodles.  It's delightful with a green salad and crusty bread.  And stinky cheese.  Light some candles, drink some wine, and enjoy your fancy fresh from the freezer stew in front of the fire.

Sep 27, 2012

A House Divided Game Day Chili Pie

This weekend is a big one in our household.  Between the hours of 3:30-7:30 very little words will be spoken regarding the matter at hand.

Football.  The University of Georgia Bulldogs versus the University of Tennessee Volunteers.  As an East Tennesse girl, born and raised, I cheer on the Big Orange with spirit and enthusiasm.  Except for one weekend a year.  A weekend filled with torn loyalties and love for my alma mater.  I tend to go neutral for the game, and enjoy friends and food.  But thinking of Athens and the wild weekend about to begin there . . .sigh.  I just love UGA with all my heart.

However, since I also love my husband with all my heart, I will keep sentiments praising the glory of the University of Georgia to myself this weekend.  I mean, I don't want to rub salt in his wounds, right? (hunker down you hairy dawgs).

Okay, back to the food.

So, if your household is anything like mine, between Labor Day weekend and the first weekend of December, there is a good possibility that unexpected guests will appear and remain for 4-6 hours. They will come armed with bourbon and beer.  Lots of it.  But people got to eat.

So have this in your freezer.  Stick it in the oven in the first quarter, and you will have a happy crew come halftime.  Tamale pie- basically a spicy beef chili topped with a cornbread crust.  Whether you are a Dawg or a Vol, we all can agree that this is a perfect game watching meal.

From the always reliable Cooks Illustrated, Freezer Friendly Beef Tamale Pie

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1.5 lbs lean ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn (don't thaw)
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro  leaves
4 teaspoon juice from 2 limes
cornbread topping (2 6.5-8.5 ounce packages of cornbread mix- get Southern style with no sugar- sweet cornbread, blech) Mix according to package directions

1.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering.  Add the beef and cook, until it is no longer pink, about five minutes.  Break up the meat as you cook it.  Stir in the onion, 1 teaspoon slat and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the spices, and garlic, and tomato paste and cook about a minute.

2.  Stir in the diced tomatoes with their jounces, scraping up any browned bits.  Off the heat, stir in the beans, corn, cheese, cilantro, lime juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Transfer the beef mixture to a 9x13 dish or 2 8x8 dishes.  Spread the cornmeal topping evenly over the beef mixture, pushing it to the edges of the baking dish.

To store:
Wrap the tightly with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray and then foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze.

To serve:
Adjust an oven rack to a middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Unwrap the dish.  If refrigerated, bake, uncovered, until the filling is bubbly and the crust is baked through and golden, 50-60 minutes.  If frozen, unwrap the dish and let the casserole sit at room temp for 30 minutes while the oven heats, then cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes,  Remove the foil and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crust is baked through and golden- 50-60 minutes.

And by the way- Go Dawgs! Sic 'em, woof woof woof!

Sep 26, 2012

My Little Butter Bean

Now, I told y'all that I was going to share my fall freezer favorites this week, and that was my intention.  However, I am using my prerogative to change my mind, because I remembered this meal that was just too good.  You need to make it now, with the last gasp of summer produce floating through the market.

A perfect late summer supper, this meal was adopted from one in that Taste of the South Southern Suppers magazine I was telling y'all about yesterday.  It is also husband approved.

First up, the Butter Bean Salad:

2 cups fresh butter beans
2 cups fresh lady peas or other field peas
2 teaspoons of salt
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears of corn)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 avocado, cut in small pieces
pinch of pepper

Makes about 8 servings.

1.  In a large pot of boiling water combine your butter beans and field peas (I used butter beans and speckled butter beans), and a teaspoon of salt.  Cook about 12-15 minutes until they are just tender (but not mushy).  Drain, rinse and cool.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients, tossing gently to coat with the lemon juice and olive oil.

Now, I am just about to drool all over the keyboard thinking about this salad.  It was even better the next day, and served as my lunch about three days in a row.  The beauty of it is that you can make it any time.  Of course, frozen corn and butter beans aren't going to be the same, but in the dreary gloom of November, you won't care a bit.  For those uninitiated with butter beans, they're basically baby lima beans.  Please don't be frightened.  I didn't like lima beans (bad experience with them at Wednesday Night Supper as a child).  Then I became a believer.  All due to the baby of the family.

Okay, moving on to this Grilled Flank Steak.
1/2 cup marinade such as Allegro Marinade
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 cloves of garlic minced
2-3 pounds flank steak

1.  Combine the first 4 ingredients in a big freezer Ziploc, or a shallow dish.  Add the steak, and turn to coat it well.  Stick in in the fridge for 2 hours to overnight.
2.  Spray the grill rack with nonstick spray, and preheat to medium high heat
3.  Grill the flank steak (ditch the marinade), with the grill lid closed over direct hear about 7 minutes preside
4.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  cut diagonally across the grain into thin slices.

And finally, the perfect accompaniment.

Feta Stuffed French Bread

1 softened 3 oz package of cream chase
4 oz crumbled feta
1/4 cups diced kalamata olives
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
sprinkle of black pepper
1 loaf of french bread cut in half horizontally

Combine the first 6 ingredients, mixing them well.  Scoop out some of the inside of the bread, and spread the cream cheese mixture on both side.  Place the bread halves together and wrap in aluminum foil.  Place on a grill over direct heat until the bread is hot and the cheese has melted- about 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

And now a gratutious picture of my favorite little butterbean.  She's just scrumptious, no?

Sep 25, 2012

How to Make a Man Happy

Last week I did not have a lick of food in the house. Every grocery store run I managed to pick up items for Miss Priss, but neglected to get myself anything to eat for supper.  Don't you hate when you spend a bazillion bones at the grocery store and come back with nothing to eat?  Hubs was gone for work all week,  leaving me absolutely zero motivation to even make an omelet.  Then I remembered my freezer!

In a fit of anxiety at the tail end of my maternity leave during the first breath of spring, I stocked my freezer with stews, soup, and casseroles.  Then it got hot.  Real hot, real fast, leaving us with little appetite for beef stew or tamale pie.

But now, with the crisp mornings and cloudless skies of game-days upon us? Those freezer favorites are coming out!

Even more exciting?  I am going to sit my fanny down at the computer, and write these recipes down for y'all (and myself!).  Sitting down has not been a facet of my life as of late, and I need to incorporate a little restful activity into my routine.

So first up, a recipe which was a huge hit with Hubs (which unlike my easy-to-please father and brother, is no small feat).  It's also a wonderful choice to bring to a family with a new baby, which is exactly what I did Sunday.  Now, a casserole chock full of cream of whatever soup always has a place in my heart (poppyseed chicken, I'm talking to you, Missy).  However, I prefer my concoctions to be cream of sodium and preservative soup free.  This wonderful Chicken Tetrazinni is my favorite incarnation of the dish ever.  I am like a Chicken Tetrazinni detective, always looking for the perfect one which doesn't rely on too many processed items, yet isn't overly complicated.  This one is a winner.  And like I said, Hubs wholeheartedly approved.  I swear, this is near impossible.  Yet he eats McDonald's and Asian buffets.  You just never can tell.

Adapted from Taste of the South's Southern Suppers recipe mag- this is on shelves now.  BUY IT!  I have made about 6 of the recipes so far, and they have all been divine!

Man (and woman) Pleasing Chicken Tetrazzini:

1/4 cup butter (I used unsalted- if you use salted, I would reduce the amount of salt you add in later)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons curry powder (now, I love curry- especially in this dish, to add depth.  However, the original recipe called for just a teaspoon, so if you aren't a fan, reduce it to that amount)
3-4 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used 2 small rotisserie and shredded the meat with my fingers)
1 box angel hair pasta, cooked to package directions
1 carton of sliced white mushrooms
1 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray either one 9x13 baking dish, or 2 8x8's with cooking spray.  Sauté the mushrooms in a little butter or olive oil until they're cooked.
2.  Ina  large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Slowly whisk in the flour, salt and pepper.  Stir constantly until it's smooth and bubbly- about 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat.
3.  Stir in broth, cream, milk, sour cream parsley and curry.  Simmer of medium heat for a couple minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the chicken, pasta, cheese and mushrooms and mix well.    Pour into the prepared baking dish(es).
4.  Bake uncovered, until bubbly, about thirty minutes.

Serve with a simple green vegetable or salad and rolls.

I brought this up the street to my neighbor and friend, Anne, and got to see her precious boys who are 2 and a half and brand new.  Everyone enjoyed the dish (besides the newborn, obviously).  Hubs was thrilled because I made some for us as well- perfect birthday dinner!

(Also, if you make 2 8x8's stick one in the freezer.  It's a perfect thing to pull out in the coming months- serve with warm French bread and some roasted brussell sprouts for a delightful winter supper.)

Sep 20, 2012

Pea Soup

That's what my brain still feels like.

I threw a cocktail party Friday night, anticipating it would last from 7ish until around 9. It was a successful shindig (more to come on that!), and lasted far longer (which is lovely, I'm not complaining here!).  Miss Priss was a lovely hostess, and slept soundly in her crib throughout the entire party.  I collapsed into my red iron bed after midnight, while Hubs finished cleaning up the bar area.  Just as I entered the deep, dreamless slumber of a satisfied hostess, Miss Priss decided to wake up.  And then decided to have a temper tantrum for a couple hours when I informed her that the party was over, and sent her back to bed.

But, lack of sleep notwithstanding, I woke up with some pep in my step.  As soon as I got packed, cleaned up the house, wrote extensive notes for the babysitter, wished Hubs good luck with both the Big Orange game and fatherly duties, I hit the road for Atlanta to see this beautiful lady tie the knot.

Kara, sorry for the blurry picture ripped off facebook. I was too busy socializing to remember to take out my camera.  Having a child has made me completely lose my mind, I swear.  Kara's dad was giving a sweet  toast, and talked about how he felt when his little girl was born.  Margaret looked on in amused amazement as big tears rolled down my cheeks and I blubbered about Dell Harper's wedding day someday.  Law, I probably should have cut myself off from the white wine then!

Anyway, my histrionics aside, the wedding was so beautiful.  It was at Serenbe- have you been? I am dying to go there and eat now, since the wedding food was so delicious.  I had two plates, plus nibbles off a friend's.  She was not eating her fried chicken fast enough, and I was forced to remedy the situation.  After that I did a little dancing, had some more wine, visited with old friends, had some more wine, told people in detail how much I love nursing because it allows me to eat lots of cookies, and then had some more wine.  Lovely!

So more social activity, heel wearing, and white wine consumption in one weekend than I've had in months has led to pea soup of the brain.  I can't wait for it to clear, because I have recipes from the party, and an excellent late summer supper to share with y'all!

Back to hydration!

Sep 18, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Tart

Let's talk squash. Summer means lots of cheap and delicious zucchini and summer squash.  And red and yellow and orange bell peppers that are actually affordable.  So you have sautéed squash and squash casserole, which are delicious, but not, well. . .fancy.

Sometimes you feel the need to be impressive.  This rich tart will serve that purpose admirably, with the added bonus of seeming far more complicated than it actually is- hurrah!  You also get to flip things over with Julia Child-like aplomb. (I'm reading her new bio, Dearie, right now- is anyone else?)
It's pulled out of a recipe magazine named "One Pan Recipes" purchased long ago.

3 cups cut up squash and zucchini
2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, cut into strips
1 large Vidalia or fennel bulb, cut  into wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 2 oz block of Parmesan
1 sheet of puff pastry (thawed)
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon snipped fresh thyme
1 cup purchased creamy Parmesan dressing

Preheat oven to 450, coat sides and bottom of a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread veggies in pan, toss with the oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Roast uncovered for about 20-25 minutes, stirring once.

Meanwhile, grate the Parmesan and set aside.  On  lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry in a 13x9 rectangle.  Add tomatoes to the mixture in the pan.  Toss the veggies with balsamic vinegar and half the Parm, spread evenly in the pan.  Lay the pastry over the veggies, tucking in the edges. Return the pan to the oven, and bake for fifteen minutes until the pastry is golden. Let stand for 5 minutes.

 Now, it's time for the flip!  Lay a cookie sheet upside down over the pastry pan.  Carefully flip the pans over together, take off the 13x9 pan.  Transfer any veggies that stick to the tart.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and 2 teaspoons of the thyme.

In a small bowl, stir together the dressing, chopped onion, and remaining thyme.  Cut the tarts into squares and serving with the dressing- I drizzled the dressing on top.  It makes 12 servings.

Now, being fancy and all, this side-dish becomes the main event.  It's really rich. Like Bill Gates rich.  I would serve it with a light green salad, and some grilled fish or chicken to balance out the puff pastry, and Parmesan and creamy dressing.  So get flipping those pans, and dressing up that squash!  Bon appetit!

Sep 10, 2012

Game Day Ruminations

 I was rifling through pictures of games past, and laughing at the changes we have all experienced, thinking back to growing up with the characters and the trouble we got ourselves in.  Hubs is in for such a rude awakening when Miss Priss gets to high school, and goes wild.  Hopefully, she will take after her father and not exhibit such behavior. . .

I was sitting around with old friends this weekend watching the UT game.  Now these guys are dads, and professionals, and adults.  In my mind we are still sixteen, plotting how to get beer and what field we can throw parties in.  Instead, we are sipping beers at the country club, since it has free babysitting during the games, and talking about real estate deals.  Law!  We are getting old! I have no idea when this happened.  I still feel like I am playing grownup when I tell the babysitter when we'll be home.
Thanks to this munchkin, I don't think I will get down to Athens for a game for the second year in a row. And I fell asleep at halftime of the Georgia game!  Although, this might mean that I am excellent luck for the Dawgs while asleep, since the second half was awesome. 

Anyway, just experiencing that stunned feeling that comes when you realize how quickly time passes the older you become.

Now I have the Circle of Life in my head.  Thanks, Elton.

Sep 5, 2012

Weight Loss Tonic

I am not trying to lose weight right now, but it never hurts to drop a few pounds here and there.  I have been reading about the benefits of regular apple cider consumption all over the place, but can never motivate myself to take shots of the stuff.  Instead the bottle of Braggs just sits in a forlorn corner of my fridge, never to be consumed.
 Until now.  I was running through Earthfare the other day and saw an apple cider vinegar drink over by the Kombucha.  It was delicious!  And expensive.  So I decided to make my own.

  • 5 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (with the "mother")
  • 4  Tablespoon Apple Juice (look for organic, straight non-sweetened juice, since we are trying to be healthful here)
  • 6 cups Water
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 4 packets Truvia
Mix it all together and chill in the fridge.  If it is still too sour, add more apple juice or sweetener.  You can use honey if you like.

This makes a big pitcherful, one which I am trying to consume everyday.
We shall see if the purported weight loss benefits are a myth or not, but at least I will be getting more water in.  Cheers!