The best beef bourguignon ever

This does not follow my theme for the year but I just had to share/brag/boast/whatever!

In a Dutch Oven sauté a handful of bacon ends and pieces with a teaspoon of jarred minced garlic. Add 2 small onions chopped in large chunks and continue cooking until onions are semi-tender. Set aside in a bowl. Dredge 1-2 pounds of beef stew meat chunks (from a Top Butt) in ½ cup flour with some salt and pepper. Add a bit more oil to the pot and brown the beef, turning once. Set this aside in the bowl with the bacon/onion mixture. Add one cup of red wine to the pot and deglaze the pan scraping the brown bits on the bottom. Add the beef, bacon, and onion mixture back into the pot along with 2 small potatoes chopped in large chunks and 2 small carrots which have been peeled and cut into one-inch chunks. Cover this with 2 cups of beef broth and 1-2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce. Add more broth if necessary to just cover the goodies in the pot but not to drown them. Stir and bring to boil. Reduce heat and let simmer. This was allowed to simmer for the two risings of the home-made bread dough. Meanwhile in separate skillet place 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté 4 large baby bella mushrooms which have been sliced. Cook just until mushrooms are slightly softened and browned. Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and set aside. When ready to put the bread in the oven, or after two hours, stir the mushrooms into the pot along with the reserved flour from the dredging of the beef. Continue to simmer the pot for the duration of the bread baking or 30-35 minutes.

We ate most of this before taking a picture. Here is what the leftover in the pot looks like. But no, the pic is not appetizing so I am not posting it, and this stew was fantastic. I do not generally rave about my own cooking but this was aromatic, flavorful, and rich-tasting. I served this with a homemade loaf of bread which is essential to clean the bowl to get every last drop!

Not just another lemon chicken

Hubby has been retired for a couple years now and has “taken over my kitchen!” He does most of the grocery shopping and cooking of weekday meals. At times I miss the planning and prepping for our meals but am also grateful that it does not all fall on me when I come home from work. I am still in charge of the baking and desserts but it is summer and usually much too hot to bake.

This recipe is adapted, but not too much, from Eating Well via my local newspaper’s Flavor section that comes weekly wrapped around all the ads for the grocery stores and more. I look through this for any interesting tidbits about food, wine, and cooking. I read this recipe and realized I had the ingredients, mostly, and chose a weekend day to cook. And had fun doing so.

First gather the ingredients. And chop and mince as directed. And cook the rice.

  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil and more
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or thereabouts
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • generous pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 bag of frozen spinach
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice; I used Jasmine rice.
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice and more

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 2 8×8-inch baking pans with oil or cooking spray. One of these will be frozen. Two meals are gotten out of this cooking episode.

Put oil in a skillet and brown the chicken on both sides. Put on plate and set aside. Pour off all but one tablespoon of fat from the pan.

Add a little bit of oil and the onions with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook until golden and soft. Stir in spices and cook 2-3 minutes more, stirring. Put on a plate and set aside.

Add spinach to pan and cook until no longer frozen. Then add lemon juice, the remaining salt, and half the onions. Oh, and add the rice and cook and stir until rice is completely coated, about 5 minutes. This has a wonderful aroma and beautiful color.

Divide the rice mixture between the two prepared pans. Top each half with 4 chicken thighs and then the rest of the onions. You will cover one pan with foil and freeze and the other also with foil but to bake.

So at this point I looked at the chicken and was concerned that I did not brown them sufficiently. So I added a touch of oil back into the skillet and browned the chicken again. Then there were nice browned bits on the pan so I deglazed the skillet with additional lemon juice and then poured this “lemon gravy” on top of the chicken in the square pans. Then wrapped one in foil and stuck it in the freezer to be used within one month or so. At that time it is to be thawed overnight in the refrigerator and about 10 minutes added to the baking time.

Bake the other pan at 375 for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer. A thermometer stuck in the chicken should register 165 degrees F.

Reviewing this recipe makes me realize it is more fussy with the various “setting asides” and the numerous spices, than I usually go for but this was absolutely delicious and worth it.

quiche

So I was going to have some friends over for lunch. I picked the day of the week that was supposed to be sunny and reasonably warm so we could sit and visit and eat outdoors. Outdoors is more Covid-safe than indoors. As 2020 would have it though, the day was rainy, rainy, and rainy! So the lunch visit did not come together which is probably just as well. Indoor eating venues are not particularly the smartest choice these days. So it worked out that two friends weren’t feeling well (Covid negative, no worries!), another one was having a crisis in her work environment, so we cancelled.

I had already made a pumpkin cake to which I had added chocolate chips, walnuts, candied ginger, and dried cranberries. I was planning a crust-less quiche for lunch and decided to go ahead and make this.

My quiche “recipe” is two cups milk/cream and 4 eggs. Everything else is up to the cook. This was made with evaporated milk as I did not have “real” milk and am not certain “fake” non-dairy milk sets well in custards. I fried up some bacon for this and added the red pepper since only Hubby and I would be eating this.

  • 4 eggs
  • 12 ounce can of evaporated milk, topped up to two cups with plain unsweetened almond milk
  • about 6 ounces frozen spinach
  • one smallest red pepper, chopped
  • about four inches of bacon, diced; I hacked off a section of frozen bacon.
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Start oven to 350 degrees F.

Fry up the bacon. Drain the fat and put the bacon bits in the bottom of the 8-inch square baking dish. Add the onion, red pepper and spinach to the pan and sauté until the onion is softened. Add this mixture to the pan with the bacon and stir together. Meanwhile beat the four eggs with a fork and add the milk and stir until combined. Pour this over the veg and bacon mix in the dish. Oh, before that sprinkle the cheese over the veg. Bake for 35 minutes until nicely set. Let cool in pan about 10-15 minutes and then cut and serve. Yum! The leftovers made a nice breakfast the following day.

broccoli and carrots and more

Thoughts:

Hello readers. Let’s face it, 2020 has been a pretty awful year all around. I’m sure we can find bright spots but it’s been grim. And now hurricane season has arrived. Yikes! But I did not decide to write again because of “all the bad stuff”. No, I figure I like to write so I should write. I’ve cooked and I’ve baked and I’ve taken pictures of food but that’s been it. I’ve also been sewing, clothes for me, and masks for everyone!

So what is new with me? We did find some campgrounds open this summer and have had a few camping weekends. Finally my daughter and the grandchildren were able to join us for two nights this month in their humongous tent.

Earlier, in the middle of the summer, I fell off my new bike and broke my wrist, the one on my dominant hand. It’s hard to do many of the things I enjoy without the use of my right hand. Hubby has been, literally, my right-hand man! After surgery and physical therapy I am on the mend. I have been out of work but will be returning soon. Returning to work will be an adjustment. Teleworking was an adjustment earlier this year, and now going into a new office space (they moved us around, the space is not really “new”) and then figuring out how long and if partial teleworking will still be in place. This bit of a taste of “retirement” will come to an end.

Food:

Hubby recently decided he would like to reduce carbohydrates to address the pandemic weight gain. I, too, have gained. Any change in eating habits in this household must come from Hubby. I have not been able to induce him into any changes such as less meat, lean meats, more fruit and veggies, vegetarian fare, etc. I was thinking of eating in a semi-vegetarian way, vegetarian during the week and meat on the weekends. That would be 4 days vegetarian (not vegan, I like my eggs and cheese, and need the calcium) and three days of meat. Sounds reasonable to me. I’ve also been getting produce delivery from Imperfect Produce and have need to use the vegetables in a timely manner.

So I got out my One Pot Vegetarian (by Sabrina Fauda-Role) cookbook and browsed. So tonight I cooked an adaptation of her recipe for Sauteed tofu, broccoli and butternut squash on pages 82-83. I do not have tofu in the house, nor do I have butternut squash. I’m also cooking this just for me. So here’s my list of ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 small head of broccoli, sliced
  • nub of ginger, peeled and chopped, about 2 tablespoons
  • 2 small carrots, cut in rounds (original recipe calls for a pound-plus of grated butternut squash)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce!!! this was too much. Use 2 tablespoons at most, maybe even two teaspoons.
  • 2 ounces goat cheese with herbs (original recipe calls for 9 ounces of herb tofu to be sauteed in the first step with the veg.)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flakes, to serve

Heat oil and saute the broccoli, ginger, and carrots for 10 minutes, stirring as needed. Then add the soy sauce and cook for another 5 minutes at the end of which I added the cheese and stirred until melted into a nice sauce. Serve in a bowl and top with the coconut.

This was tasty but clearly there was too much soy sauce for my taste. If I used twice the vegetables, the amount given may have made more sense. The original recipe’s butternut squash would have absorbed more of the soy sauce along with herb tofu. My single serving did not need all that soy sauce.

This cookbook is excellent. These one-pot dishes can be adapted easily. I have mine covered with post-it notes and commentary on what I have made and what I would like to make. I hope to make more vegetarian dishes to round out our eating habits, both for our health and for the planet.

Be well, stay safe, avoid crowds, wash your hands, and wear the mask!

 

 

Eat Your Vegetables!

In my endeavor to eat healthy and lose weight I am trying to put more vegetables in our meals. I find it difficult to eat the daily recommendations of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. That is unless I eat a salad which is 2-3 in one. In winter I find it harder to find salads appealing. I don’t hold to the idea of restricting vegetables in my quest. I will eat peas, potatoes, and carrots and not consider them too starchy, even though they might be. Beans are a vegetable and I am talking the canned variety of kidney, pinto, garbanzo, and the like. Even corn.

To this end I have been renting books from the library searching for interesting and easy ways to add fresh and frozen vegetables to our meals. We usually add frozen mixed vegetable to noodles, leftovers, chili, and casseroles. We dry roast them in a skillet with onion and seasoning too. But now I am looking for variety.

Jacques Pepin and Julia Child are two of my favorite chefs for reading about them and their recipes. My neighbor gave me her extra produce from one of those produce delivery services that touts themselves as reducing food waste. I hope it is true. There were two misshapen but perfectly good butternut squash. And there was a recipe for Butternut Squash Sauté in More Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin (page 136). So I made that. Hubby had the task of peeling and cutting the squash and almost cut his finger off doing so! The dish was tasty. I did not take a picture of it; we ate it. And then I put the leftovers in a recipe for Lentils and Sweet Potatoes using the squash as substitute for the sweet potatoes. I did not take a photo of that one either.

Here is a photo of a vegetable dish: French Style Peas

This recipe is from One Pot Vegetarian by Sabrina Faude-Role. I modified the recipe a bit using baby broccoli instead of spring onions and used homemade vegetable broth instead of a vegetable stock cube. And it was tasty! Who knew one could cook lettuce!

  • Frozen peas, I had half a bag so about 1 ½ cups
  • One bunch baby broccoli, stems and all, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 8 ounces vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • A grind or two of pepper
  • 6 lettuce leaves

Put everything in a sauce pot, bring to boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Voila!

Now I have many many cookbooks and many have vegetable recipes. The glory of renting books from the library is trying them out to determine if any are worth getting for one’s own kitchen library. That one pot book is for me. It is not Vegan but all vegetables; and grains and pasta and a few more things like plant based proteins. There are even some desserts.

Quinoa casserole: inspired by Betty

To be fair my 1978 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook has no mention of quinoa anywhere in it. Not that quinoa was not known but it was not the superfood in popular cooking at that time. We older people struggled to learn how to pronounce the word.

I was actually looking for a recipe for sausages and rice that did not have tomatoes. We had been eating out at an Italian restaurant weekly and I wanted something differently seasoned. I also wanted something with vegetables. The following meal is inspired by Betty’s Rice and Corn Bake, page 109. That recipe is basically rice, corn, cheese, eggs, and milk. Mine is a little different.

  • 2/3rd pound chicken sausage link cut into 1 inch pieces and sauted. The sausage I had was flavored with spinach.
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables; I thought about using only corn but I like color in my foods.
  • 4 cups cooked quinoa; I had thought about using brown rice; maybe next time.
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Cook the quinoa as directed by the package. I cooked what I thought was the amount for 4 servings: 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups of water. Cook the sausages in a bit of oil. Heat oven to 350 F.

Now combine. First mix the vegetables, quinoa, and sausages in greased 2 quart casserole or baking pan. Sprinkle cheese on top. Combine eggs, milk, and seasonings. Pour this over the food in the pan. Place slices of tomato on top. Now bake for 40-45 minutes.

This made for a tasty and filling dinner. Hubby and I like to have “dinner in a bowl”. I deliberately arranged the tomato slices to make four servings. This was a lot of food and I wanted to insure two meals.

After thoughts: This is a lot of quinoa. I should have cooked 1/2 the amount. Actually I think brown rice may be a better choice for more appealing texture.

2019 plans: also Coleslaw, Pumpkin Pie, and Hoppin’ John

Happy New Year to all. I hope to write more, play Solitaire less, Facebook even less, and maintain Faith, Hope, and Love for all.

My sister had an idea a few years ago to cook through a cookbook in a year. I never could choose which of my 50+ books to use, but this year I will use Betty Crocker as my go-to book. This does not mean I will cook each and every recipe, nor each recipe exactly, but will use this standard American Cookbook as the first source of inspiration. For example, if I want to make to make pork chops I will peruse this book’s recipes to determine how to fix them. So I did make a breaded pork chop and Betty instructed to bake them on a rack in the baking pan in the oven.  I did and they turned out nicely. I failed to take a picture so you must take my word for it.

Hubby was grilling ribs. Cole slaw is a nice side dish. I bought a package of broccoli slaw to use. I made a combination of Betty’s Coleslaw and her Old-Fashioned Cabbage Salad from page 138, plus ingredients from a variation.

  • 1/2 package broccoli slaw
  • 1 apple cored and diced
  • 1/4 shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of celery salt
  • a few grinds of black peppercorns

My go-to pumpkin pie is Betty’s. I have made it before https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2017/03/14/pi-day/. The problem I had this time is that the crust did not seem to bake through on the bottom. The edges were beautiful. What did I do wrong? I have never pre-baked the crust for pumpkin pie.

Hoppin’ John is on page 226. I did not use this recipe because this traditional New Year’s Day meal is made of rice, black-eyed peas, and pork in many different proportions and variations. I used bacon and added onion and spinach. The sprinkling of red pepper flakes was the only real thing I took from Betty.

Stuffed peppers, my version

So, I asked Hubby what should we do with the two green peppers languishing away in our fridge’s produce drawer. Mind you, I have stored these in there in one of those mesh produce bags so they are doing just fine. I forgot to take them camping with us so now I feel they need to be used. Hubby suggested stuffed peppers. I’m thinking I have not made stuffed peppers but once in my life and Betty Crocker had me blanch the peppers before stuffing. What a hassle that was! But I figure I would give it my best shot anyway. I looked up a more modern recipe and found that blanching was not essential. Yay! As I am making these for our dinner one weeknight after work, I begin to add all sorts of ingredients. It becomes another version of Southwestern Quinoa salad that I had just thrown together. There are differences so just bear with me. Thanks!

  • 4 small yellow peppers
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 cup ground beef (I confess, I diced up one frozen pre-formed burger pattie.)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (I again used the boil-in-bag kind.)
  • 2 medium sized green bell peppers
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper
  • and don’t forget the cheese: 1/2 cup shredded
  • olive oil for sauteing

Chop and dice the onion and yellow peppers. Saute these in a bit of olive oil until nicely aromatic. Also add the garlic. (I forgot garlic until later, oops!) Brown the ground beef in this concoction and season with cayenne and black pepper. Get that all nicely browned together. Oh, by this time I am remembering to cut the tops off the green peppers and dice the tops and add this to the skillet. Use a large-ish skillet. Add the corn and stir this around for a bit of a saute as well.

Meanwhile cook your quinoa as directed on the package. Drain or fluff when appropriate. Add the can of tomatoes and the can of drained black beans. Taste for additional seasoning. Add the quinoa and stir all together. This in itself would make a nice meal. But I’ve got these two bell peppers with the tops cut off and the membranes removed sitting like wobbly cups on my cutting board, so let the stuffing begin.

I have semi pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees F. I’m taking a big chance here and hoping this won’t undo the nice cooler house temperature that the cooler weather has brought us over the past two days. My kitchen is not air-conditioned. The small unit in the dining room does not reach it well so we close it off so the dog can stay cool enough at night to breathe. But I digress.

Find a suitably sized baking or casserole dish (this one is 1 1/2 quarts). Spoon the filling into the two peppers. Then spoon the remaining filling all around. Now top each pepper with cheese. Truth be told the only shredded cheese we had was a “pizza blend”, but cheese is cheese! Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Then uncover the dish and bake another 15 minutes. The peppers will be al dente but that is the way we like them.

Enjoy! The leftover filling will make a good take-to-work lunch.

Quick Rice Pilaf

A friend of mine showed me an article in the NYTimes about Procrastibaking. Good article; you should read it. I don’t work from home but I do have urges to bake in order to avoid things like…deep housecleaning, another load of laundry, clearing out the sewing room, sorting books from the shelves to give away to the library. I love books. I love having several books piled askew on the coffee table, bedside stand, etc. It is very hard to give away books.

I read the article; I baked brownies. I may bake blondies as well. Depends on what else I want to put off doing…

But this is not about books. Well, I do write about recipes from my 50+ cookbooks. (These are not being sorted through to give away. Not yet.) I find that I have been cooking less from recipe books. I throw things together and may look something up for an idea of a flavoring or additional ingredient. So for supper I wanted to make rice along with the vegetables and I made a pilaf, AKA rice with peas and carrots. 🙂

  • bag of instant brown rice (Success is the brand, 10 minutes in boiling water and its done)
  • 1-2 cups frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • a few colorful peppers, chopped, I used 3 red mini-peppers and 1 yellow mini-pepper
  • olive oil for the pan
  • a few shakes of soy sauce

Cook the rice. Put oil in a skillet and saute the onion and peppers. Stir these a bit. When they have a few nicely browned bits, add the peas and carrots. Stir and add the soy sauce. Mix with the hot rice. Voila!

IMG_1064

 

Chicken Cutlets with Herbes de Provence & Apple Compote

This is another recipe from Eating Well Magazine Winter 2003. I had all these ingredients and it is supposedly a meal made in 30 minutes. Well, it took me 40 minutes, and an additional 8-10 for the sides.

  • 2 apples, peeled and slice thin
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided (These are what the recipe calls for. My amounts were approximations because I do not take the time to measure out oil for adding to skillets for sauteing and the like.)
  • 3 teaspoons butter, divided (see above note)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste (see note above for salt and pepper as well)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast; I had thawed four for this recipe and have no idea how much they actually weighed. Be sure to thaw the chicken!)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

First make the apple compote: Take two apples, peel them, and slice thin. Put in a bowl and mix with the  lemon juice and cinnamon. I cooked this in a little oil and butter in my cast iron skillet. That took about 5 minutes to cook. Set aside and keep the compote warm. Add 5-7 minutes for peeling the apple and squeezing and zesting the lemon. And another 2 minutes for cleaning the skillet and finding a bowl to hold the compote.

Mix 1 teaspoon of herbs with the salt and pepper. This does not look like enough seasoning but it is. Place chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with mallet until 1/2-inch thick. This went rather smoothly. I got to use the meat mallet Hubby had found that is all of one piece. It just won’t do to be pounding meat and have the head of the mallet go flying across the kitchen! Anyway, sprinkle both sides of the flattened chicken with the seasoning mixture.

Heat the remaining butter and oil in the skillet. Heat over high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until no longer pink 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to platter and repeat with the other half of the chicken. Here is when I begin to get the idea that perhaps this recipe was made for 6 chicken breasts…did say it served six. Too bad, for Hubby and me I have the four. When chicken is done, remove to platter to keep warm.

Add broth, lemon zest, and remaining herbs de Provence to the skillet. Cook stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to boil and cook for about 3 minutes until slightly reduced. I kept cooking a few more minutes because it did not look reduced to me. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve with the apple compote.

 

IMG_0712

IMG_0714The magazine suggested serving this with orzo and green beans. I served it with leftover sweet potato mash and cooked mixed vegetables from frozen. If one were to make the orzo and beans this meal would take longer. The entire time I was focused on the cooking the chicken and compote. Next time around, I won’t have to keep referring to the recipe and that may shave 5 minutes or so from the prep and cook time.

This is a tasty chicken dish. I will make this again. I may leave out the apple compote and make a savory lemon sauce/gravy to pour over, or maybe an orange sauce! I think orange would complement the Herbs de Provence very nicely.