Friday, April 30, 2010

Beef Bourguignon, Hummingbird Cake and Family

How exciting it is to have family come in from out of town to visit, even if it is during the week.  It was MY pleasure to cook the family meal so right away I skimmed through my trusty blog to see what delicacyI could whip up without too much effort since it was a workday.  I really wanted to make the Beef Bourguignon but remembered how muchwork it took and I just couldn't possibly do it on a work day as well as enjoy my company at the same time.  So I had a quirky thought of doing it in the crock-pot.....yes, I said, the crockpot.  Knowing how upset I would make the French, Ina even Julia I still thought it would be a great idea!  I started on the night before, prepared it all and placed it in the crockpot and set it in the refrigerator.  The next morning I took it out of the refrigerator. let is stand while I got ready for work and then turned it on just before I left and let it cook all day. . . . . . I really think the French, Ina and Julia would be very impressed.  The meat and all it's flavors melted in my mouth along with a bunch of kudos from around the table :)  Elise offered to make the dessert and I suggested a family favorite from last summer that she ended up making several times because everyone just LOVED it - it's called the Hummingbird Cake and once again, it was a hit.  The perfect ending to a perfect meal with family.  Our visitors came all the waydown from upstate NY whom have always been the kids' favorite aunt and uncle.  What a treat it is to spend time with special people whom you hold dear to your hearts even though you don't get to see them as much as you would like to.  I was also thrilled that our newest family member, Amy Grace got to meet them too :)   The recipes are as follows:

by Ina Garten

•1 tablespoon good olive oil
•8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
•2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
•Kosher salt
•Freshly ground black pepper
•1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
•2 yellow onions, sliced
•2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
•1/2 cup Cognac (we omitted this since we didn't have it)
•1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
•1 can (2 cups) beef broth
•1 tablespoon tomato paste
•1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
•4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
•3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
•1 pound frozen whole onions
•1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
Do all of the steps above only after you add the tomato paste and thyme, stir until well blended and put crockpot in refrigerator to set over night.  Next morning take the crockpot out and let it stand for about a 1/2 hour to take away the chill and then turn it on low for all day cooking or high for an early noon meal.  An hour before it's ready, finish the rest of the recipe except put the crockpot on high and let is simmer.
We served our with mashed potatoes and dinner rolls.

by Southern Living
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped bananas
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.
Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.

Yield: 3 cups
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Roast Pork with Apricots

 Essentials of Slow Cooking -by Williams-Sonoma

  • ¼  cup all purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 boneless pork loin roast, about 2 ½ lbs.
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 cups dried apricot
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsps.  Chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsps. Dijon Mustard
On a plate, stir together the flour, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper.  Turn the pork in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess.  In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil.  Cook the pork, turning frequently, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Pour off all but 1 tbsp. of the fat in the pan.  Add the onion and sauté until softened, 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Pour in the broth and deglaze the pan, stirring and scraping up the browned bits of the bottom of the pan with a wood spoon.

Transfer the pork to a slow cooker and pour in the broth mixture.  Add the apricots, orange juice and thyme.  Cover and cook until the pork is very tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 140˚ (60˚), 2—3 hours on the high-heat setting or 4-6 hours on the low-heat setting.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the apricots and set aside.  Use a large, shallow spoon or a ladle to skim as much fat as possible from the surface of the cooking liquid.  Strain the juices into a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and concentrated, about 10 minutes.  Stir the mustard into the sauce and add the apricots.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut the pork loin, across the grain into thin slices and arrange the slices on a warmed platter.  Serve at once with the sauce and apricots over a bed of rice.

Mondays are now Elise's turn to cook.   It's so nice to come home to a full cooked meal, just the smell alone as I walk through the door is amazing.  She out did herself with this dish.  Pork in a apricot/orangy sauce married with the garlic, onions and fresh thyme was SOOO good.  With it being cooked in the crockpot the meat was so tender and just soaked in all the juices..  m-m-m-m.  You must try this one!  Dad and I both loved it and licked our platters clean :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Strawberry Cheesecake


For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 1 cup red jelly (not jam), such as currant, raspberry, or strawberry
  • 3 half-pints fresh strawberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.
Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees F and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.
To make the topping, melt the jelly in a small pan over low heat. In a bowl, toss the raspberries and the warm jelly gently until well mixed. Arrange the berries on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Note: Measure your springform pan. The bottom of mine measures 9 inches, but it says 9 1/2. I put the springform pan on a sheet pan before putting it in the oven to catch any leaks.

Today was a special day for a very special friend of the family.  A tribute to Trey,  we cooked him his favorite dishes.  Trey has aspirations to going to the next level.  He and Elise have been buddies throughout college and he also graduates from Liberty in a couple of weeks.

Everything I cooked for dinner today, I've already cooked and posted on my blog so there's no use use in posting the same recipes over again.  But, Elise made the dessert, which was this delicious Strawberry Cheesecake.  It came out very, very good.  Beside the strawberries and the flavor of the cream cheese the touch of lemon was superb!!  Muah ~ Fantastico!!  This was Ina Garten's Raspberry Cheesecake but we substituted it with Strawberries because for some strange reason Elise drove all over Lynchburg looking for raspberries and couldn't find them after going to several stores so she finally decided on strawberries.  It was still superb and a hit!! ~isavortheweekend


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mi Arroz con Pollo

4-5 oz. chorizo (Mexican breakfast sausage)
Paper towels
6-8 skinless chicken thighs
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 chopped green pepper
1/2 chopped red pepper
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 16 oz. can Hunt's roasted tomatoes
1 6 oz. can chopped green chilies
1 1/2 tsps. gr. cumin
1 1/4 cups rice
3 cups chicken broth
salt & pepper

On medium heat brown chorizo in large dutch oven pot.  When the chorizo is done cooking, turn the heat down to low.  Grab enough paper towels to soak up the grease being careful not to burn yourself.  You'll be amazed how much grease chorizo has.   Discard the paper towels.  Remove chorizo from pot and set aside.

Salt and pepper chicken thighs.  Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in same dutch oven and add the chicken thighs.  Brown on both sides until golden brown but do not make it crispy. Take the chicken out of the pot and set it aside.  (I completely forgot to take pictures of the chicken while it was browning.  :(  - sorry!)

On medium, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the same pot, add the chopped garlic, onions and peppers.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Saute until onion is translucent being careful not to burn it.

Once the onions are translucent add the whole can of tomatoes and green chilies and stir. 

Add the chicken and chorizo, stir and simmer for five minutes.  Add the rice and the chicken broth, sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir then turn the heat down to low-medium, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

I just took the lid off and voila!!  This is it!

I have asked around and have researched many a recipe for Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice).  I guess there's a certain recipe I'm looking for and I just can't seem to find it.  Through the many recipes I looked through, I am certain that the one I'm looking for will not contain peas or olives and many of them do.  For some reason, those two ingredients do not make any sense to me and I just can't see how they could make this dish any good.  Anyway, I guess I'm looking for more of a Mexican flavored Arroz con Pollo SOOOO, I just decided to put this recipe together, picking and choosing the ingredients I wanted in mine as well as the ones I didn't want.  Hence, "Mi" (my) Arroz con Pollo.  Don liked it a lot and was very pleased with it.  I liked it too.  The flavor of the cumin, green chilies and chorizo gave it enough of a delicious kick with lots of Mexican flavor - just what I wanted. So, I am thrilled to finally have found My Arroz con Pollo recipe ~ this ones a keeper.  ~isavoredtheweekend

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Time and Lazarus

This is Lazarus

Lazarus was a dead tree, at least my Yankee husband and me, the SouthWest chica thought so.  Well, little did we know.  After Don had cut him down in hopes that we would be digging him up soon after, we never got around to it (I know, surprise, surprise), he just sat there, in the same spot, year after year, Spring after Spring until one Summer, he all of the sudden started to shoot a branch here and a branch there and pretty soon was a shady tree with big leaves.  When Spring came around again, Lazarus started to bud and soon  flourished into this beautiful, fuschia pink, cherry blossom tree - WOW!!!!  Thank you Lord, your marvelous handiwork is truly amazing and oh by the way, thanks for raising up Lazarus, again :)


This is not "Death Row" as Elise would call it but instead this is my "Herby Life Row"
Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, Thyme, ARUGULA :) and more Rosemary

Elise makes fun of me and rightly so.  Year after year I've been known to put a plant or flower up on my kitchen window sill and sure enough, they died.  Time after time, to the point when one year Elise decided to call it "death row"...haha!! The name has stuck since.  I laughed outside but was so torn inside because it was so true.  I've just come to the realization that I just don't have it....I just don't have that green thumb but instead brown or maybe ash brown :(  So this Spring I'm trying again and I'm really, really hoping and praying these lovely herbs will live!!  Please pray they do, will ya??!!

PF Coles

Quick and Easy Spicy Stir-Fry Beef with Jasmine Rice

Yea well since we don't have a PF Changs here in Lynchburg ~ I'd just thought I'd kinda create it at home. . . kinda. . . .sorta. . . .

Jasmine Rice (enough to make 4 servings)
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb.Thin stir-fry beef - seasoned lightly with salt and pepper
1 shallot - minced
1 garlic clove - minced
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
1 Pkg or 3 cups fresh stir-fry vegetables (Pea pods, broccoli, baby carrots, cauliflower, red peppers, green peppers)
1 or 1 1/2  cup Kikkoman stir-fry sauce
1/3 cup House of Tsang szechuan spicy stir-fry sauce

Start the rice according to pkg. directions.  In the meantime, on medium high - heat two tablespoons olive oil in large wok or pan.

 Add the beef and stir about 3 minutes.   Remove meat from pan.

Turn heat down to medium, add another tbsp. of olive oil and add the shallots and the garlic until the shallots are translucent, then add the sliced mushrooms  and stir until they're soft and deep juicy savory brown.   

Add another tbsp. of olive oil, turn the heat back up to med-high and then add the rest of the vegetables.  Stir for about 4-7 minutes then add the meat into vegetable mixture.
      Turn the heat back down to med-low and add both 
sauces. Stir well and simmer for about 2 minutes. 

  By now the rice should have been done and just sitting which is fine!!  Try not to open the pot of rice until you get to this point.  Fluff the rice then serve it on a plate with the beef and juices over it and voila!!  Quick and Easy!
I made this meal as I was in the mood to cook.  Today was Monday the day after Easter Sunday and although we could've had leftovers I just wasn't in the mood for them.  I had the day off and after a few errands, this is what I decided to make while standing in the produce aisle almost ready to make fajitas but the thought of spicy beef and vegies over a bed of rice won out.

It was a surprise to my retired hubby, Don, who also thought we were just going to have leftovers today, so this was a treat.  He was full on just one serving as was I, happy to know that there's enough for me to take to work tomorrow for my lunch.  Had a great three-day weekend :)  ~isavoredtheweekend
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