Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Flavor of the Season

I am not one to buy into fads. Here in New England in the Fall it is pumpkin spice EVERYTHING! I like pumpkin. I don't LOOOVE it.  I am not a big fan of it in pie and certainly don't want it in my coffee. Pumpkin muffins and cakes on the other hand.....YUM! Today I baked and pureed my first pumpkin. I got it from my CSA and, after reading that the canned stuff isn't really pumpkin at all, I decided to try and make my own pumpkin puree from scratch. Turns out it is super easy AND the resulting baked goods turned out delicious. This recipe certainly doesn't require freshly roasted pumpkin but if you have one on hand use it! You won't be disappointed.

Pumpkin Spice Whoopee Pie with Maple Whiskey Cream Filling

1/2 C butter
3/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs Cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs heavy cream

Pre heat oven to 350F

In a stand mixer cream together butter and sugars, add pumpkin puree and mix until smooth. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add eggs vanilla and cream to mixer. Gradually add dry ingredients until incorporated. Spoon batter onto cookie sheets and bake 12-15 minutes until a toothpick come out clean. Let cool and fill cookies with 1/2 recipe of Maple whiskey cream filling (Click here for recipe). Makes about 1 dozen whoopee pies.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cooking for a Cause

Yesterday was the benefit for my dear friend who was in a very bad motorcycle accident this summer. Thankfully he will be ok although he will probably walk with a limp for the rest of his life. Sundays at my house are usually spent on the sofa watching football, especially when it is as dreary as it was yesterday. But, I promised that I would make an appetizer. I really didn't want to leave the house and with money being so tight lately I need to come up with something low effort and low budget but tasty. We have a ton of beef in our freezer since we bought a hind quarter in the spring, so I came up with these tasty little french onion sliders. All I needed to buy was the rolls. I got dinner rolls from the bakery department of our local grocery store. The kind that come in a sheet and you have to break them apart. They looked kind of like this (but mine came 12 to a sheet):

 This allowed me to slice them all open, toast and fill all at one time, thereby allowing me to make them in batches of 12. As a bonus, each pack fit perfectly in the disposable aluminum pans I bought for the occasion. It worked perfectly! Here is how I did it.

French Onion Roast Beef Sliders

2-3 pound chuck roast
2 cans french onion soup

4 Tbs Butter
2-3 Tbs flour
1 Tbs garlic powder
1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Gravy Master
1 Tbs beef base
salt and pepper to taste

3 dozen small dinner rolls
1 stick butter
1 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced

Place roast and soup in a slow cooker, set low and cook overnight (8 hours minumum).
When cool enough to handle, remove roast from slow cooker (reserve cooking liquid), separate fat and shred meat. Place meat in a bowl and cover with cooking liquid from the slow cooker to keep meat moist.

Melt butter in a large skillet and add flour and garlic powder and make a roux. Add cooking liquid, Worcestershire, gravy master, and beef base and stir to create a thick sauce. Add meat to the pan and continue to add cooking liquid until meat and sauce are of a sloppy joe like consistency. You don't want it to be pasty but if too runny bread will be soggy. Once desired consistency in achieved, salt and pepper to taste, and remove meat from heat and set aside.

Slice rolls open. Melt butter in a skillet and place rolls cut side down to toast. I used a table top electric skillet and was able to toast and entire package of rolls at one time. I was able to do three batches with 1 stick of butter. Once toasted, place a slice of mozzarella on each roll, then top with meat mixture, and then the top of the roll.

To serve, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 10-20 minutes or until rolls are hot.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What's Stew With You!

It seems that Fall is most definitely upon us now. I have to admit I am loving these cool nights and have been sleeping like a champ! This past weekend was pretty damp and gloomy so I decided that it was a perfect day to make one of my favorite things, beef stew. Growing up I used to love eating Dinty More Stew from the can. So what if it smelled like dog food when you opened it, lol! This recipe of mine captures that same beefy flavor but with ingredients you can identify! I don't normally put green beans in my stew but since I had some from my CSA that needed to be used pronto, I included them this time. They were quite good and I will likely use them again in the future if I have them. You can certainly leave them out if they aren't your thing.

Erika's Beef Stew

1-2 pounds beef stew meat
1-2 Cups flour
1/4 oil
2 onions, chopped
4 large stalks celery, chopped
1 can beer
1 box beef broth
2 Tbs beef base
2 Tbs molasses
1-2 tsp fresh thyme
2 Tbs fresh parsley, rough chopped
4 large potatoes, cubed
1 small bag baby carrots (or 4 large carrots, chopped)
2 Cups fresh green beans, cut into 2-3 inch pieces (optional)

In a large pot heat oil over medium-high heat
Meanwhile toss stew beef in flour to coat
In batches, brown beef in hot oil. remove from pot when browned
Deglaze pot with half of the can of beef scraping the browned bits from the bottom
Add celery and onion to pot and saute until soft.
Return beef to pot and add remaining beer, broth and base.
Simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour
After 1 hour remaining ingredients and continue simmering until vegetables are soft
Once vegetables are soft, add salt and pepper to taste