Monday, March 30, 2009

Winter Stew

Several years ago I decided that I wanted some stew. My mother gave me a recipe she had, and here is my evolution which has turned into a comfort food for my family. We love to order bread bowls from the bakery for this winter favorite.

1-2 lbs. stew meat
1/2 c. seasoned flour (basil, oregano, seasoned salt, and pepper added to the flour)
1-2 T. olive oil
3-5 large carrots, coarsely chopped
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion coarsely chopped
2 stalks of celery coarsely chopped
1-3 t. lemon juice
1-3 t. Worcester sauce
2 t. A1 steak sauce
2 bay leaves
2 beef bouillon cubes
salt and pepper to taste

Place seasoned flour in a large bag. Add meat and toss to coat. Heat oil over medium high heat and braise meat.
Place meat in a crock pot or slow cooker. Fill 3/4 with water and add additional ingredients. Allow to cook on medium until the meat is tender and falls apart - approximately 6-8 hours. If the liquid is thin, remove 1 cup, add 1-2 T. flour and make a thin paste, then mix back into the stew and allow to heat and thicken.
Remove bay leaf prior to serving.

Note - if you prefer less mushy vegetables, wait to add them until 1-2 hours prior to serving.

My Favorite Chili

Several years ago I discovered that I could make Chili. It just sort of dawned on me. I've played with this recipe over the years, and the following is our favorite. We love to come home from church and find this waiting for us on a chilly day. Note that some of the portions may be approximate as I don't generally measure - I go mostly by taste.

1 lb. ground beef or sausage, browned with grease drained off
1 quart bottled tomatoes (or equivalent)
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
1 can northern beans OR black beans
1 can corn
1/2 chopped onion
1 minced garlic clove
1/4 c. A1 steak sauce
1-2 t. liquid smoke
1 t. Worcester sauce
1-2 beef bouillon cubes
1-3 T. Chili powder (to taste)
1-3 T. Cumin (to taste) (I consider the cumin the most important ingredient)

Do not drain beans or corn. Combine all ingredients into a slow cooker, and add one can of water. Cook for 3-5 hours in the slow cooker or crock pot.

To serve, sprinkle with diced onions, grated cheddar cheese, and sour cream.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Grandma H's Fudge Log

Every year, my grandma makes this fudge for all of the family parties. As a child it was one of my favorite holiday treats.

4 c. sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1/4 c. butter (1/2 a square)
12 oz. chocolate chips (1/2 semi sweet & 1/2 milk chocolate)
1 Hersheys candy bar (with or without almonds)
7 oz. marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla
Nuts (optional)

Combine sugar, butter and milk in heavy 2 1/2 quart saucepan; bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate until melted. Add marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour onto waxed paper, and roll into a log. Cool. To serve, unwrap waxed paper, and cut in slices.

Almond Brittle or Bark

This too was discovered in an old neighborhood cookbook. It is titled Almond Brittle, however I think it is rightly - bark. This too, is part of the treats we share during the holidays. Despite the amazing taste, half of the beauty is the simplicity of the preparation.

1 pkg (6 oz) semi sweet or milk chocolate chips
1 c. butterscotch chips
1 c. blanched almonds (or whatever you have - toast them first though)

Put almonds on cookie sheet. Salt and toast at 350* for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put chips in a pan and melt over low. Stir in toasted almonds. Spread on buttered cookie sheet or waxed paper (spread as thinly as possible). Chill until firm, then break into pieces.


I discovered this recipe in an old neighborhood recipe book a couple of years ago. They always turn our perfectly, and we get rave reviews. Each year we tape a caramel to my kid's valentines day cards for their friends, and give their teachers a bag to take home to their family. These have also become part of the treats we share with friends at Christmas.

1 Cup Butter
1 1/2 c. white corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 Cups sugar

Combine in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until comes to a boil. Continue stirring and cooking until candy reaches softball stage, 229-231 (depending on degree of hardness desired.) Pour immediately into a buttered 9x9x2 pan. Allow to cool then cut into squares. Wrap individual pieces in waxed paper.

Taquitos and Salsa

My dear friend Berta gave me the mexican cooking 101 class. This recipe is my family's favorite dinner - even the picky kids clamor for taquitos!
(I'll post the photo at a later date)

Taquito filling:
1-2 lb. hamburger
1-2 baked potatoes (or microwave baked)
1/2 onion chopped
1-2 garlic cloves minced
chicken bouillon
salt to taste

Cook the hamburger, and onion, mash in potatoes, add 1-2 garlic cloves, salt and bouillon to taste.

8-15 arból chilés (whole, don't seed them)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1-2 garlic cloves minced

Cook chilés, onions, and garlic in olive oil to release their oils, until softened.
Blend in blender along with 1-2 cans of tomato sauce and 1-2 cubes of chicken bouillon.

To assemble:
Wrap approximately 12 white corn tortillas in a dish towel and microwave on high for 2 minutes to steam. In a large frying pan, heat oil. Spoon a small amount of filling into tortillas, folding in half (like a taco,) and fry until crisp. Careful not to overfill, or the filling will seep out and pop in the oil, causing burns. Turn onto other side and repeat.

To serve:
carefully open each 'taco' and top with lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, and ranch. The ranch seems a little non-traditional, but it somehow combines with the salsa to make something absolutely amazing, and just isn't as good without it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

French Toast to Die for (almost literally)

Every year for my friend's birthday, her husband makes this french toast. It is slightly time intensive, and richer than you can imagine with its caramel syrup, chocolate, and whipping cream. That said, it is also an amazing culinary delight that can generally only be handled once a year!

1 loaf french bread - cut 1 to 1 1/2" thick
6 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 T. cinnamon (combine with sugar so that it doesn't clump)
1/4 c. vanilla (that's not a typo)
1 1/2 t. almond flavoring
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream

Mix and pour mixture over the bread, and then turn a couple of times to coat well. Put in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or over night. Heat griddle to 350-375*. Grease with butter, and fry toast 5 minutes per side.

Caramel syrup
1 pound brown sugar
1/2 pound butter
1 t. maple flavoring
1 pint heavy whipping cream

Bring ingredients to a boil. Boil while stirring constantly for 2-5 minutes. Turn off and allow to cool for a few minutes.

To assemble:
Place a french toast hot from the griddle onto a plate. Sprinkle finely grated chocolate over the toast, and then top with caramel syrup, and whipped cream.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cranberry Granola Power Bars

My husband is a runner and is preparing for a big race. As we've discussed different strategies for feeling good both during and after the race, I spent some time looking at different recipes for gels, goos, and gus. Interesting reading at least.
In my quest, I did find a recipe that piqued my interest on Actually, I couldn't find the actual recipe on their site, but I found a video on YouTube that I was interested in.

I took their recipe and modified it and here's what I came up with.

1 1/2-2 c. walnuts
1 c. raw almonds
3 c. oatmeal
1/4 c. ground wheat or wheat germ

Place nuts in a plastic bag and break into pieces (with rolling pin)
Mix oats, nuts, and wheat in baking dish and bake in 350* oven for 20 minutes (stirring frequently lest it burn)

Meanwhile, combine the following ingredients:
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg white
1 scoop gatorade powder (lemon-lime)
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
2 T. butter

Mix together and THEN turn on the heat stirring constantly (careful that the egg white doesn't cook.) After mixture reaches a boil, continue to stir and cook for an additional 30 seconds, then remove from heat.

Remove oat/nut mixture from oven and pour into large bowl. Add cooked liquid mixture and 1 c. dried cranberries and mix with a wooden spoon. Pour into a 9x13 pan lined with parchment paper. Using another sheet of parchment paper spread out and press down, compacting the mixture. Allow to cool for 2 hours, cut into bars.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Grandma J's Zucchini Casserole

As a kid, I didn't love veggies. However, my grandparents had an awesome garden and my grandma made a zucchini casserole that I loved. This works great for potlucks etc.

6 c. cooked and drained zucchini (or crook necked/summer squash)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c. sour cream
1 package stove top stuffing
1 c. chopped onions
1/2-1 c. dried bread crumbs (or crushed croutons)
Grated cheddar cheese

Saute onions in butter, then add to zucchini, sour cream and soup. Set aside. In the same pan used for the onions, melt 1/2 c. butter. Add stuffing, seasoning, & dried bread crumbs.

In a casserole dish, layer zucchini, bread crumbs, cheese, zucchini, bread crumbs, cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350* until bubbly.

* Alternate - thinly slice zucchini and cook together with onion without the butter. Then add to other ingredients and finish as directed.