Beef Stroganoff

I have always liked Beef Stroganoff and have been trying to perfect it for awhile.  I think I may have finally found the right mix of ingredients.  One note regarding this recipe; make sure that you cut the meat into small pieces and pound it thin, if you don't the meat will be tough.

Beef Stroganoff:
click here for printable version

1 1/2 pounds sirloin tip (cut into bite size pieces and pounded very thin)
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock
1 onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt & pepper

Season the meat with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet.  Brown meat (use additional 2 tablespoons vegetable for second batch if you need it.)
Remove meat to a plate, add 3 tablespoons butter to the skillet.
When butter is melted, add mushrooms and onions.  Saute for about 5 minutes.
Add 2 tablespoons flour and stir for one minute.
Add beef broth and meat back in.
Stir, partially cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.
While simmering, heat water for egg noodles.
Cook noodles according to package, drain and mix with remaining 2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper.
Add sour cream, mustard and salt and pepper to taste, to the stroganoff.
Serve over noodles.

Granola Bars

Did you know that the average granola bar has 26 ingredients??!  I didn't either until I happened to actually take the time to count...I was astonished!
This prompted me to try and find a homemade granola bar recipe.  You can wrap the bars in plastic wrap and store them for a week too (if they last that long!)  
These can be made with an endless variety of extras: almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, peanut butter, chocolate chips, coconut and many different types of dried fruit.  I made mine with Craisins and wheat germ.  My kids loved them and I feel better about them eating these than the old box of Quaker granola bars.  I think I will be making them much more often!

Granola Bars:
click here for printable version
adapted from Alton Brown

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup almond slivers
1/2 cup wheat germ (optional)
6 ounces honey
1/4 dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
6 ounces dried fruit, chocolate chips, coconut or anything you want!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish.
Spread oats, wheat germ and almond slivers on a 9 x 13 baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat honey, sugar, vanilla, salt and butter over medium heat until combined.
Reduce oven to 300 degrees.
Stir toasted oat mixture into honey mixture.
Pour into buttered dish and press down.  
Bake for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool completely and cut into rectangles.

King Cake

Every year I try to find the perfect King Cake recipe.  Usually the cake  is too bland and is overpowered by the bitter taste of the colored sugar.  I think I may have finally found the right balance of sweetness.  I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website, but made some changes to it.  Hurry and try it, you only have 3 more days!!!  
Laissez les bons temps rouler!

King Cake:
click here for printable version
adapted from King Arthur Flour

1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk, white reserved
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 nonfat dried milk powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

8 ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons + 1-2 teaspoons milk, you want the icing to be a thick pourable glaze

yellow, purple and green sprinkles

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.  
Using a stand mixer, mix all of the ingredients together to form a smooth dough.  Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour, covered.  
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface.  Pat into a 24 x 6 inch rectangle.  
Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.
Put the filling down the center of the dough.
Fold up each edge to meet at the top; roll and pinch the edges together to seal the filling inside.  
Place the log of dough onto the baking sheet seam side down.  Pinch the ends together to make a circle.  I used a measuring cup in the middle to keep the dough from baking together.
Cover and let rise for 1 hour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon water.  Brush over the dough.  Bake the cake for 20 minutes, then lightly tent with foil and back for 25 minutes more.  
Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.
When the cake is cool, beat all of the icing ingredients together.  Add the final 1-2 teaspoons milk to make the icing pourable, but not too thin.  Pour over the cooled cake and sprinkle with the colored sugar.

Beef and Barley Soup

I recently found this recipe on another food blog and am so glad that I made it.  I served it with King Arthur's Dinner Rolls and everyone loved it.  

Beef and Barley Soup:
click here for printable version
adapted from For the Love of Cooking

olive oil
2 pounds chuck, diced
1 small onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 potatoes, diced
1/2 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons cornstarch
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Put about 1-2 teaspoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven and heat over medium high.  Brown the meat, add the onion and garlic and cook until they are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the broth, bay leaves and salt and pepper.  Cover and put in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.
Remove the soup from the oven and add the carrots, celery, potatoes, mushrooms and barley to the soup.  Cover and place over medium high heat, when it is boiling lower heat and simmer for about an hour.  Mix in the cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons water and add to the soup.  Increase the heat until the soup is boiling, stir.  Remove from heat and serve.

Braised Pork Chops with Tomatoes and Sage, Modena Style

We found this recipe in one of our favorite cookbooks Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.  When you braise the pork chops the meat becomes tender and the sauce is the perfect blend of tomatoes and sage.  I love this recipe because it requires minimal prep work and no chopping, but is still rich enough to enjoy for a special dinner.

Braised Pork Chops with Sage and Tomatoes, Modena Style:
click here for printable version
adapted from Marcella Hazan

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 pork loin chops (about 2#)
6-8 fresh sage leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
15 ounce can whole tomatoes, broken up in pieces with juice

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Turn the chops in the flour and shake off the excess.  
Put chops in skillet with the sage leaves and cook until they are brown, then turn over.
Add the salt, pepper and tomatoes.  Adjust heat until it is at a slow simmer, cover the pan with the lid ajar.
Cook for about 1 hour, until the meat is tender, turning about every 20 minutes.