Saturday, December 20, 2008

Those Devilish Eggs!

Just a quick tip.......don't you just hate peeling the shells from boiled eggs??? I think it would be the number one reason I would never sign up for deviled eggs at office luncheons (there are other reasons though...).

Rachel Ray showed a quick and easy way to get those shells off in a snap. You boil your eggs, then pour out the water, put the lid on and shake them......shake them well, making sure the eggs bounce all over the pan. When you take off the lid, the shells are cracked into tons of tiny pieces that slide right off! Hmm....maybe we'll have deviled eggs this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thanksgiving Update

I can't believe I never posted anything about our Thanksgiving dinner. I had the most fabulous time helping Shelby (via tons of telephone calls!) cook her first Thanksgiving dinner, which was a total success!
Mine was smaller than usual this year, but I did make some changes that I thought I'd tell you about, especially since these dishes do tend to grace Christmas dinner tables!
The first was my mashed potatoes....we've all had successes and failures with this dish! I've made them too thin, too name it! But this year I bought a gadget (and one for Shelby, too!) that makes no-fail mashed spuds.....a potato ricer! Believe it or not, I got it at Farm Fresh....and it works! Just boil your potatoes, as usual....just make sure they don't get too mushy...just fork tender. Then spoon them into the ricer and push them out! It sure beats having to clean spuds off the cabinets when you use a mixer...and the food processor turns them into something even a baby can't eat...wayyyy too thin! They were perfect, especially after I added a whole head of roasted garlic, butter and sour cream. Yummmmmm!!!
The next thing I did was change up my green bean casserole recipe. I literally cannot stand canned cream of mushroom soup, which is why I never made green bean casserole until a couple of years ago, by request only. To "mask" the canned soup taste, I added sour cream, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese and everyone LOVED it....but it still bothered me that I was using something in my food that looked like glue...and didn't taste much better! Sooooo......I melted a little butter in a pan on medium high and sauteed some chopped up mushrooms, added a little flour, salt and pepper and cooked the floury taste out of it, then added half and half until it was thick!!! Homemade Cream Of Mushroom Soup!!! This year's casserole was, by far, the best I've ever more canned mushroom soup for me!
The next thing I did was change up my pumpkin pie a little......I had read somewhere that they had used a portion of sweet potatoes to pumpkin puree and it made it better, so I tried it. I used 1/3 canned sweet potatoes and 2/3 pumpkin puree....ohmigosh!!! It was the silkiest pumpkin pie I've ever had and it had a richer color, too!
So, even though I didn't make everything I normally make when Shelby is home, I made the "must haves" and our dinner was wonderful!!! I hope you have a change to try some of these changes in your dishes.....they work...promise!
Oh yea....the turkey turned out great, too!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's a New Soup Day!!!

The best thing to do on a rainy day is make a pot of soup! I made this one a couple of weeks was all gone in two days! I got this recipe from Tyler's Ultimate, one of my most favorite Food Network shows. It's rich and delicious!

The Ultimate Beef Stew


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying, plus more to drizzle
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 to 3 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch pieces (this cut is also called chuck shoulder pot roast and chuck roast boneless)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle good quality dry red wine (Tyler recommends burgundy....I used my favorite Black Dog from Chateau Morrisette...down the street from Melin's cabin!)
8 fresh thyme sprigs
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 orange, zest removed in 3 (1-inch) strips (I left this and beef?)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I left this out...just not crazy about cloves!)2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups beef stock (I used Kitchen Basics)
9 small new potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in 1/2
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups frozen pearl onions, a large handful
1 pound white mushrooms, cut in 1/2
1/2 pound garden peas frozen or fresh
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish

Horseradish Sour Cream, recipe follows, for garnish


Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the oil and butter.

While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Season the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.

Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all those tasty bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, smashed garlic, orange zest strip, ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste, bay leaves and beef stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.

After 2 hours add halved potatoes, sliced carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms, along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Add the frozen peas during the last minute of cooking. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.

To serve, place the stew in a soup bowl, garnish with parsley, drizzle with olive oil and add a dollop of Horseradish Sour Cream. Right before serving add a slice of toasted french bread, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil, half way submerged in the stew.
Horseradish Sour Cream:

1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Chives, finely chopped, as garnish
Combine sour cream, prepared horseradish and a drizzle of olive oil in a small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add a dollop of the mixture on top of the stew and garnish with chopped chives.
Enjoy! Have a great day everyone.....and to all on the East Coast, stay dry!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Facelift for the Holidays!!!

I've been waiting for Thanksgiving to be over so I could use the Christmas blogskin that matches my kitchen during the holidays! Over the years I have collected just a few decoratives that are peppermint....not really intentionally, it just happened. I'm actually not a fan of the mint flavor, but I love the look of peppermint. I use clear glass candy jars and fill each with a different size or shape of peppermints, including one that holds candy canes. I also have a peppermint apron, peppermint, now my blog matches my kitchen! I wish they had this one without the "ho ho ho"....I'd keep it year round!