Monday, December 28, 2009

Sweet & Savory Beef Stew

I'm hungover - from the holidays that is and I'm in no mood to make a big fuss in the kitchen. My slow cooker is once again my savior! I'm typically not a fan of fruit in my savory dishes but the prunes (yes, you heard me right!) give a nice depth of flavor to this hearty winter fare. I'm snowed in and not willing to venture out for crusty bread but good bread and a salad would complete the meal. I'm settling for buttered noodles so my kids more inclined to eat stew with prunes!

Sweet & Savory Beef Stew

1/3 C. all purpose flour
2 tsp. paprika
2 lbs. chuck steak or stew meat, cubed in 1-inch pieces
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbl. tomato paste
1 14.5-oz. diced tomatoes, drained
1 3/4 cups chicken broth, I use low-sodium
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch coins
1 cup pitted prunes, chopped
1 Tbl. light brown sugar
optional = carrots, I added some because I just adore cooked carrots and had them!

Combine flour and 1 1/2 tsp. of paprika in a large baggie. Toss in beef (in two batches) and toss to coat. Remove beef from bag and shake off excess flour.

Heat oil in large non-stick pan over med-high heat and brown beef on all sides for about 5 minutes. Remove beef and place in slow cooker.

Reduce heat and add onions and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. each paprika, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook about 4 minutes until soft and stir in tomato paste and cook 2 more minutes. Put this mixture into slow cooker and add diced tomatoes and and broth.. Cook on high for five hours or on low for 7 hours. When you have 1 1/2 hours left, add parsnips, carrots, prunes and the remaining salt, pepper, cinnamon and the brown sugar. (I added parsnips earlier but that's just me!) Serve with either rice, egg noodles or just some crusty good bread.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Hot Rye Spread

I'm not done. I'm not done shopping or wrapping or baking or cooking and don't even get me started on laundry and cleaning. It's a few days before Christmas and the crushing reality is starting to hit me. But I will take a deep breath and try to focus on what makes this holiday special. Friends, family and making memories. So my upcoming dinner with friends won't be gala affair but it will be casual and fun. To really put me in the spirit, I'll be making these little treats as a starter. They are cheesy addiction on bread. They appear at almost every holiday and most importantly, they remind me of my brother who could eat a whole tray of these.

Holiday Hot Rye Spread

1 cup grated Swiss cheese
½ cup bacon bits (can use crumbled real bacon but for speed I use Hormel "real" bacon bits)
1 small onion - finely chopped
2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley
⅔ cup mayonnaise
½ tsp. salt
1 clove garlic - minced
1 loaf party rye bread (Pepperidge Farm)

Mix all ingredients and spread layer of cheese mixture on rye bread. Arrange on cookie sheet and broil on high until hot and bubbly then watch them go...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fudge Pie

So I'm not a "pie" person but as you know, I'm a chocoholic. This recipe was a quick fix to a very long week and it was met with grins from two sweet little girls. In fact, the next night I was asked to make another one but declined out of sheer exhaustion. Anyway, with some weekend rest the pie is back on our minds and probably on my hips!

Fudge Pie

2 squares (2-ounces) semisweet chocolate (I just used chips)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar, then temper the eggs by adding a little hot liquid to the beaten eggs then add eggs back into sugar mixture; beat well. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 25 minutes or until just set. Makes a thin pie so it's really more like a tart. I crimped the pie crust down a bit to prevent burning.

Serve warm or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream. Then take a long walk!