Saturday, November 23, 2013

(Crock)Pot Roast

It's finally getting colder here for days at a time.  The soup and roast recipes are coming out, for nothing says warmth like the smell of meat roasting at home.

This recipe started out as an oven recipe.  I however, needed a crockpot recipe, so I adapted it.  I must admit, I overcooked it the first time, but the flavor was wonderful.  Next time, I'll be sure to time it to take it out when it's done and not leave it on warm for two or three hours than it should be.

(Crock)Pot Roast
adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

1 (2 lb) chuck roast
2 T olive oil
2 onions, cut in half
6 - 8 carrots, cut into 2 inch slices
1 c red wine or beef stock
2 - 3 c beef stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 lb potatoes, cut into chunks

Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion halves and brown them on both sides.  Put onions in the slow cooker.  Brown carrots in oil and transfer to the slow cooker.  If the pan looks dry, add a little more olive oil.  Sprinkle the roast generously with salt and pepper.  Brown the roast in the pot, turning until it is nicely browned on all sides.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Pour wine or 1 c beef stock into pot.  Stir, scraping the bottom with a spoon to release all the tasty browned bits.  Pour into slow cooker.

Add the potatoes and sprigs of thyme and rosemary to the slow cooker.  Pour in beef stock (start with 2 c, if meat looks dry during cooking, add the third cup).  Cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 - 10 hours.

To serve, meat from slow cooker.  Allow to rest for a bit (10 minutes will do) and then slice.  Serve on a platter with carrots and potatoes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Crunchy Pappardelle

This is another recipe out of the fabulous Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.  For some reason, my kids weren't fans of this.  However, Curtis and I were so I'll be making this again!

Just a warning, this recipe does use a lot of pots and pans.  Deal with it.  It's totally worth it.

This serves 4.

Crunchy Pappardelle
adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

1/4 c olive oil
6 c button mushrooms, halved (or quartered or sixthed depending on how big the mushrooms are)
3/4 c white wine or water
2 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
3/4 t sugar (if you aren't using wine, omit)
1 c heavy cream
grated zest of 2 lemons
6 T chopped parsley
6 T panko or white bread crumbs
1 -2 bunches broccolini, leaves removed and cut into 2 1/2" long pieces or 2 - 3 small heads of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 lb dried pappardelle

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.  At the same time, bring a medium pot of slated water to a boil for the broccoli/broccolini.  While the water comes to a boil, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms begin to brown and release their juices, stirring occasionally.  Add the wine/water, bay leaf, thyme leaves, and sugar (if using wine).  Bring to boil and reduce the liquid by 2/3rds.  Add the cream and stir to mix.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.  Taste and add plenty of salt and pepper.  Keep warm.

In a small pan over medium heat, toast the panko until golden, stirring as needed to brown evenly.   Be sure to watch closely--the panko browns quickly.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the parsley and lemon zest.  Set aside.

Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions.  Reserve about 1 c of pasta water and then drain pasta once al dente.  While the pasta cooks, cook the broccoli or broccolini in the medium pot of water until bright green and crisp tender (about 2 minutes for broccolini--longer for broccoli).  Drain.  Add the broccoli to the mushroom sauce and stir.

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl.  Add the mushroom/broccoli sauce and half the lemon zest/parsley mixture and toss to combine.  If the pasta looks dry, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water.  Stir the remaining lemon zest/parsley mixture with the golden panko.  Sprinkle over top of the pasta.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Baked Mac and Cheese

Months ago, a friend asked me for this recipe.  I still haven't given it to her, so I am just adding it here.  I was shocked to find it wasn't already on this blog--I've been making it five years as my go to baked mac and cheese recipe.

This recipe has lots of different cheese.  You don't really need to use all the cheeses--just aim for 4 cups of cheese, whatever combination floats your boat.  However, be sure to use the velveeta--it helps make the mac and cheese creamier.

This is not a healthy recipe.  If you don't already know this, I'll let you in to a little secret--mac and cheese is not healthy to start with.  This one is particularly bad for you, so make it on occasion and enjoy it thoroughly!

Makes one 9x13" pan and serves about 6 (to maybe 8 depending on serving size)

Baked Mac and Cheese
adapted from the

3/4 lbs (12 oz) elbow macaroni
4 eggs
1/3 c Velveeta cheese, cut into small cubes (small is important so it melts quickly)
5 T butter, melted
2 c half and half, divided
4 c grated cheese  (recommended:  2 c cheddar, 1 c mozzarella, 1/3 c Asiago, 1/3 c Gruyere, 1/3 c Monterey Jack)
dash of salt
black pepper

Cook the macaroni according to the package directions to al dente.  Drain and keep warm.  Whisk the eggs in a large bowl while the macaroni cooks.  Add the Velveeta, butter and 1/2 c of half and half to the eggs.  Add the hot macaroni and toss until the Velveeta is melted and mixture is smooth (if the Velveeta doesn't melt the whole way, that's ok too).  Add the remaining 1 1/2 c half and half and the grated cheese.  Season with salt and pepper and toss until completely combined in a large bowl.

Pour the mixture into a 9x13" baking pan and bake for 1 hour in a preheated 325 degrees oven.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pumpkin Cupcakes with the Best Icing Ever

Many months seem to have desserts that belong to them.  June, July, and August are for ice cream, popsicles, and cold desserts.  September is for apple desserts.  October is for all things pumpkin and cupcaky.  December is for cookies. January is for sneaking in bread pudding once I'm done trying to eat healthy.  February is for cherry and strawberry desserts. Spring and summer months (depending on where you live) also get berry crisps, strawberry tarts, and other light, not so filling desserts.

November gets pies.  Every imaginable kind of pie.  Some pumpkin desserts make the cut, but mostly, it's pies.  November is not for cupcakes.  Sorry, November.

Yet, here it is, November 10 and I am posting a cupcake recipe.  I still have pureed butternut squash in my fridge and there was that school fall festival yesterday, complete with a cake walk.  I made cupcakes.  They were fabulous.  So November, you can have these cupcakes too, especially if they sneak in at the beginning of the month, before the pies take over.

We were thankful these were mostly donated to the school cake walk.  Otherwise, Curtis and I would have eaten way.too.many.  The icing was incredible--salted caramel.  One cupcake was all we each got and it was just enough to leave me thinking about exactly how good those cupcakes were and how lucky two cake walk winners were.

If you want, you can make the salted caramel sauce days in advance.  Just refrigerate and then reheat before to room temperature (so it's pourable) before using.  If you don't feel like messing with making caramel, you can also use store bought salted caramel sauce.  Just be sure to buy the good stuff (with real ingredients, not the cheapest on the shelf).

A single recipe makes 15 cupcakes.  Go ahead and just double the recipe.  Share the love.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Icing
adapted from

3/4 c (12 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
1 c cooked pumpkin (butternut squash) puree or canned pumpkin
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
2 large eggs

Salted Caramel Sauce:
1 c sugar
6 T butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 T fleur de sel or other fancy, coarse sea salt (it's worth it to buy this in bulk folks.  Totally worth it)

3/4 c (12 T) butter at room temperature
2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c salted caramel sauce (from above)

For the cupcakes:  In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium (or medium-low, up to you, I like medium) and cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter turns golden brown.  Watch carefully to prevent from burning.  The butter should smell nice and nutty.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Meanwhile, in a small to medium bowl,  whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  In a larger bowl, stir together the pumpkin, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and browned butter.  Add the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.  Line muffin cups with paper liners.  Fill each cup  3/4 full.   Bake in a preheated 325 degrees oven 20 -25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack after they have cooled a bit and allow to cool completely before icing.

For the salted caramel sauce:  While the cupcakes bake, make the caramel sauce.  Heat the sugar in a small saucepan over medium to medium-high heat.  Stir in the sugar as it begins to melt and stir frequently until the sugar is melted.  Once the sugar has melted, no longer stir.  Swirl the pan if you need to stir the sugar.  Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber color (a lighter amber color will give you a milder flavor), being careful not to scorch it.  If you are unsure, use a candy/fry thermometer and cook until the sugar reaches 350 degrees.  Carefully add the butter and stir (caramel will bubble up vigorously when things like butter or cream are added).  Stir until the butter is melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the cream.  Sir in the fleur de sel.  Melted sugar is extremely hot.  Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then you can pour into a jar or other storage container.

For the frosting:  Beat the butter until light in color and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until the sugar is incorporated.  Add 1/2 c of the salted caramel sauce and beat to combine.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high (depending on your mixture) and beat until airy and fluffy.

Frost the cooled cupcakes.  For embellishment you can drizzle extra caramel sauce on top or top with a square pretzel (my favorite!).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Banh xeo or Vietnamese Crepes

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi continues to please!

I decided this would be a good recipe based on the three daikon radishes that had been sitting in my crisper drawer for 6 months.  I figured it was time they were used, especially since we are due to get fresh daikon in box soon.

Let me start by telling you, I am not a crepe maker.  I've attempted it twice now, and well, both times things haven't gone well.  This time resembled the first time.  My crepes were too thick and sticking to the pan--they ended up as scrambled crepes instead of the real deal.  Thankfully, this time I had someone to bail me out.

As I stood, baffled, over the crepe pan, Curtis walked into the house in his biking clothes.  He had biked home from work and came over to see what I was doing.  "Your batter is too thick," he informed and then moved me out of the way and took over.  Whew.  In no time, he had the batter at the right consistency, heated up a second pan, and cranked up the heat on the first pan.  Before long, he was flipping crepes off the crepe pan (into the air--all fancy like) and pulling beautiful crepes off both the crepe pan and cast iron skillet.

That's one of the great things about being married.  Sometimes, when one of us is floundering, the other one call bail us out.

We learned a few things here:

•The pan temperature needs to be very hot.  The cast iron skillet works better than the crepe pan because it holds the heat better.

•The batter needs to be very thin.

•A single batch is probably plenty, but a double batch worked perfectly because there was a lot of room for trial and error.

•The electric griddle we use for making pancakes would probably work beautifully for this recipe.

Once we got the crepes off the pan in crepe shape, we served them straight the kids.  I was nervous we the filling wouldn't satisfy the kids or the taste of the crepes would throw them off.  Nope!  They loved the crepes.  J ate three and the other two each ate two.  The crepes tasted wonderful and the sauce was fabulous (the boys even ate the sauce.  M boycotts sauces on principal, unless we're talking maple syrup).

This recipes calls for enoki mushrooms.  I tried two stores (HEB and Whole Foods) and couldn't find them.  I finally found a cute bundle of them at our closest Asian grocery store.  I'd like to use them, but need to have the energy and time to go to multiple stores to source them.  If you want to add a meat, you can cooks some shrimp or prawns to add to the fillings.  HEB had the rice flour--which makes the recipe vegetarian (if you substitute sweet soy sauce for the fish sauce) and gluten free.

Serves 4 -5.

Bahn xeo or Vietnamese Crepes with Fresh Vegetables and Herbs
adapted a hair from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

1 1/3 c rice flour
1 egg
1/2 t salt
1 t ground turmeric
1 3/4 c (1-13.66 oz can) unsweetened coconut milk
a bit of sunflower oil

2 1/2 T lime juice
1 1/2 T sesame oil
1 T brown sugar
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T (or more, to taste) fish sauce (nuoc mam) or sweet soy sauce
2 t grated fresh ginger
1/2 t salt
1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
1 fresh red chile, finely chopped (optional)

1- 2 large carrots, peeled and thinly shredded
1 daikon radish, peeled and thinly shredded
4 green onions, sliced on an angle
1 fresh green chile, cut into long thin strips
1 1/2 c snow peas (or more--we love these), cut into long thin strips
1/2 - 1 c cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/3-2/3 c basil leaves (preferably Thai basil), roughly chopped
1/4 c mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 c mung bean sprouts
1 c enoki mushrooms

Blend the rice flour, egg, salt, and turmeric in a large bowl.  Slowly whisk in the coconut milk, whisking well to avoid a lumpy batter.  Add more coconut milk or water (put water in the coconut milk can to get all the coconut milk out) until the batter is the consistency of light cream.  Set aside to rest.

Prepare the filling ingredients if you haven't already done so.  Put each filling in it's own bowl so people can choose what they want.

Whisk together all the sauce ingredients and adjust the flavor adding more red chile if using or fish sauce (if using).  Set aside.

To cook the crepes, add more coconut milk or water to the batter if it has thickened while resting.  Heat up a large nonstick frying pan (or a cast iron skillet or an electric griddle--the electric griddle doesn't let you swirl the crepe batter around though, which is kinda fun).  The pan should be pretty hot.  Add a little sunflower oil.  Put some batter in the pan, if not using an electric griddle, swirl it around to cover the surface.  Once the bottom is golden brown, carefully turn the crepe over.  If the crepe isn't cooked enough or the pan isn't hot enough, the crepe will probably stick and you'll end up with scrambled crepes.  Remove from pan and repeat with remaining batter.

Place a crepe on each plate and top desired fillings in the middle of it (like a taco!).  Drizzle some sauce over top and fold or roll up.  If desired, drizzle some extra sauce over top.