Saturday, January 23, 2010

Beef Stew

beef stew I don’t remember when I picked up a package of beef stew meat, but there it was, in the freezer, one of the last packages of beef anything I had in there. I had a can of potatoes and some carrots, celery, and mushrooms that needed to be used, so it all went together for this basic but comfortingly tasty dish.

To be honest, I didn’t save the recipe I used to my computer. About 3 p.m. I quickly Googled “beef stew” and found one that only took a few hours. I got the meat going in some beef broth and water with a couple of bay leaves, then Bradley and I went to his room and started cleaning out the closet. (Little tip: don’t leave the meat boiling and go off to clean a closet.) It didn’t burn, but was almost there when I realized what was happening, so the stew had a bit of a “smoky” flavor. We ate it anyway.

So after I added another couple of cups of water and the veggies, it simmered an hour or so on the stovetop before adding a little cornstarch to thicken it up. While that finished, I popped some biscuits in the oven to complete our meal.

I used the cast iron Dutch oven and could have made this dish in the oven if I’d been able to start it earlier in the day.

Sorry for not keeping the actual recipe, but I did want to post yet one more way I kept to the challenge and created a wholesome and delicious meal.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Back in the Kitchen

Well, I never left it, really, but my computer was in the shop for a week, thus no blog posts. The pantry/freezer challenge was going pretty well, then this week was one of “those”, complete with a two-day migraine, so we had a couple of nights when I didn’t cook and everyone just ate whatever they came up with from the frig. Jess and I ate cereal and Greg made himself some eggs. Yippee.

The week before I used up a partial bag of scallops and a partial bag of shrimp from the freezer to make a seafood bisque recipe. Greg and I had seen Paula Deen make this using shrimp and lobster tails over the holidays. I did do the whole bread bowl thing to serve it in, then we tore it apart and ate it with our soup…  (A day-old round loaf of sourdough purchased from the clearance shelf in the bakery section of the store. Cut out the top, pull out the inside. Brush w/ olive oil, sprinkle w/ salt and pepper, then toast in a 400 degree oven until brown.)

To cook the shrimp and scallops, I borrowed a technique from Ina Garten and roasted them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. After they were cooked and cooled a little, I pulled off the shrimp tails and then chopped everything into bit-sized pieces.

In the interest of being heart healthy, I used olive oil instead of butter and fat-free half and half instead of regular. It was still plenty rich and oh, so tasty!


Creamy Shrimp Bisque

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen, 2008

Prep Time: 15 min bisque
Cook Time: 30 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 to 5 servings 


  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 green onion with tops, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 3 1/2 cups fish stock (I used chicken stock – it’s what I had on hand)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 ounces cooked shrimp or lobster meat, chopped


In a medium saucepan, add celery, onions and butter, stirring occasionally. When tender add garlic and mix together. Stir in flour and half and half. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in fish stock and parsley. Cook for 10 minutes until it thickens. Add shrimp meat and let simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through. Stir occasionally. Add salt, to taste.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Hollandaise: flavorful relish or dressing or topping served as an accompaniment to food

We usually cook from scratch as opposed to boxes and cans, and this pantry/freezer challenge is a great way to try some new things in the spirit of creativity. This morning Greg was going to make himself a “McMuffin-like thing” for breakfast when I asked if he’d want to try making Hollandaise sauce and having Eggs Benedict. His eyes lit up – that’s like his favorite thing for breakfast ever, and he watched “Julie and Julia” with me last weekend, so I knew he’d be open to trying something new.

Hollandaise is one of those things I’d never heard of before beginning my high school career as a waitress at Village Inn. (There were lots of things I learned out there, not all food related, but mostly all legal…) So I had my first ever order of Eggs Benedict, but that’s not the best way I’ve enjoyed Hollandaise. My co-worker and friend, Jill, taught me about using it as a sandwich dipping sauce. We’d order patty melts on rye with a cup of sauce on the side, then go to town. I haven’t eaten that in years, but I do always wish for a cup of Hollandaise whenever I have a patty melt.

So we looked up recipes and the seemingly easiest one was from Tyler Florence on the Food Network website. A few egg yolks, a stick of butter, some fresh lemon juice. No problem. We tag-teamed the entire dish, poaching eggs, whisking sauce, toasting English muffins.  The sauce came out perfectly, buttery and lemony, and the eggs were perfectly poached with soft yolks that blended with the sauce for a rich, smooth feel in my mouth. I’m sorry that I enjoyed and gobbled this down without taking a photo. It was pretty. It was yummy. It was easy.

Hollandaise Sauce


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Pinch salt


Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.

  • 8 slices Canadian bacon
  • 4 English muffins, split
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 8 eggs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Hollandaise sauce, recipe above
  • Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Brown the bacon in a medium skillet and toast the English muffins, cut sides up, on a baking sheet under the broiler.

Fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet half full of water. Add white vinegar to the cooking water. This will make the egg white cook faster so it does not spread. Bring to a slow boil. Gently break 1 of the eggs into the water taking care not to break it. Repeat with remaining eggs. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 3 1/2 minutes until the egg white is set and yolk remains soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing the egg to drain. To assemble: Lay a slice of Canadian bacon on top of each muffin half, followed by a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley. Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Using up the Turkey

I was able to follow my menus just as planned this past week, with the exception of last night (Friday). The day was long and busy and by suppertime I was “done”. We got sandwiches from the local cafe and they were delicious. However, I still have two one-gallon bags full of leftover turkey to use up.

Tonight’s supper was homemade turkey pot pie, using the recipe from Joy of Cooking, plus mushrooms. I used a little bit of the white meat that was left, plus a thigh and wing, so there is still plenty of turkey to use up. The celery and mushrooms were needing to be used, the carrots purchased fresh yesterday. I made the pastry dough, and while my pie crust is always flaky, and always tasty, it’s never pretty.

Since this recipe makes everything from scratch, it takes awhile to put together, but well worth the time. When Jess took her first bite tonight, and closed her eyes and sighed. That’s all the thanks I need.

Turkey Pot Pie (Joy of Cooking)turkey pot pie

Basic Pie Dough (you will need 1/2 of this. I went ahead and made the  entire recipe and put the second half in the freezer.)

Sift together: 2 1/2 C flour and 1 1/4 tsp salt

Add: 3/4 C chilled shortening and 3 TBS cold unsalted butter

Cut half the shortening and butter into the flour mixture (I used my hands), until the consistency of cornmeal. Add the second half of shortening and butter and work until dough is pea-sized.

Sprinkle the dough with 6 TBS ice water. Blend the water gently into the dough just until it all holds together. If necessary, add one teaspoon to one tablespoon more ice water.

Divide dough in half, shape each into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you make the pot pie filling.

Creamed Turkey

Melt 4 TBS butter in a large saucepan over med-high heat. Add 1/2 C flour and whisk until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly for one minute. Remove pan from heat. Add in 2 C chicken stock and whisk til smooth. Whisk in 1 1/2  C milk or half and half. (I used about 1/2 C fat free half and half, and one C skim milk.)

Increase heat and bring mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly. Cook and whisk for one minute. Stir in cooked turkey, bring to simmer and cook one minute more. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.


In a large skillet, over med-high heat, melt 4 TBS butter (I used olive oil). Add in vegetables: 3 sliced carrots; 2 stalks celery, chopped; one medium chopped onion. I also added in 6 large, sliced mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir the vegetables into the creamed turkey mixture, adding in 3/4 C frozen peas.  Pour entire mixture into baking dish. Roll out pie dough to fit baking dish and place on top of filling. Tuck edges in and make several slits in dough. Brush dough with egg wash.

Bake 30-40 minutes, until dough is brown and sauce is bubbling.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


More than just a bad Bill Murray movie from 1979…

Whenever I buy a large quantity of ground beef (on sale), I always make a batch of meatballs to keep in the freezer for future recipes. By “a batch”, I mean triple or quadruple a regular recipe. Today I tripled this one for plain, basic meatballs, using ground sirloin, and ended up with 80 meatballs, about ping-pong ball size.

Some will be for supper tonight in the Meatball Minestrone Soup. The rest will be flash frozen and stored in a Ziplock bag. We’ll pop some in the crockpot with barbecue sauce for Super Bowl snacks, and Jessi is planning to co-host a baby shower in early February and I’m “catering” the event, so a few dozen will go for that. Perhaps a meal of spaghetti and meatballs or mashed potatoes with meatballs in brown gravy to use up the rest? We’ll just have to see…

I bake my meatballs on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. They take about 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. When they come out of the oven, they go onto wire cooling racks with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips. This batch didn’t have that issue (93% lean meat).

This recipe came from a Google search – you can click on the title to go to Recipezaar and see the original.

01-03-09 036

Easy Basic Meatballs

25 min | 5 min prep

  • Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef (we also use ground turkey)
  • 1/2-2/3 cup dry breadcrumbs (can also use seasoned crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4-3/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small onion, chopped (approx 1/4 c)
  • 1 egg
  1. Combine all ingredients and shape into 20-24 meatballs (1 to 1-1/2 inches each).
  2. To oven bake: Place in ungreased 9x13 pan (you may want to line it with foil for easier clean-up).
  3. Bake 20-25 min or until light brown and cooked through; turn meatballs halfway through, if desired, to help maintain a round shape.