Classics, Comfort food, Food, Meat

“Winter is Coming” Meat Pie

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I recently jumped on to the “Game of Thrones” bandwagon. Yes, I know I am about 8 years late, but I am here now, completely obsessed and can’t wait to see how the story wraps up.  This past week has been everything “thrones” especially with the HBO marathon going on.  In Season 4, there is an extensive description of a particular “Steak and Kidney Pie” made by the character “Hot Pie” at the “Inn at the Crossroads”.  As Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne hungrily tucked away large bites of the pie, I couldn’t stop thinking about how delicious it must be.  Decision made.  I am was to make a classic English Meat Pie to celebrate the premiere of Season 8.  Yes, the weather is warming up, but I hope you choose to make this recipe soon, we only have Game of Thrones on till the middle of May !!!

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds stew meat, cut into small bite-sized pieces

Chopped button mushrooms, carrots and onions – cut them small enough so that they are the same size as the meat.  You can change up the ratio, but I went meat heavy since that is the way my husband likes it.  I would reckon about 1/4-1/3 cup for each veggie would be sufficient.  

1/4tsp of dried rosemary, thyme, and sage

3tbsp of flour

2tbsp of good red wine, you know what to do with the rest of the bottle

1tsp of Worcestershire sauce

1tsp of paprika

1 can of chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil for frying

Store bought pie crust

Method:

In a heavy bottom pan (I like my dutch oven), heat olive oil and brown beef in batches, seasoning it salt and pepper.  Once browned, set aside.

 

 

In the same pan, add a little bit more oil and add all the veggies and saute till pale brown.  Once browned, added dried herbs, salt and pepper and saute for 5 more minutes.

 

Add the beef back in with all the veggies.

Add flour, and saute till all the meat and veggies are coated with the flour and browned (5-7mins)

 

Add 1 can of chicken stock, paprika, wine and Worcestershire sauce.  Cover and simmer on medium low heat till the gravy thickens, the carrots are soft and the meat is fork tender.  This is a pie filling, so it has to be nice and thick.

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Divide the filling into individual “pot pie” dishes (OR one big pie pan) and cool the filling completely.  In the past, I have made a meat and potato version of this in muffin tins, with a double crust.  You can find that recipe here

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Cover the filling with thawed pie crust.  Crimp the edges to seal in the filling, add a slit on the top for steam to escape.

 

 

Brush the top with egg wash–this will ensure a deep golden crust.

 

 

Bake in a 375F oven for 40-45 mins till the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling underneath.

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Serve Hot !!!

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Fish & Seafood, Food, Lent

Roasted Salmon

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You either love it or hate it.  I happen to love salmon and my husband is not a big fan.  So on nights when I am cooking for myself, this is a go to favorite.  It is quick and simple, but the most important step is to purchase fresh, sustainably sourced salmon.  Frozen fillets never taste good, especially when the preparation is so simple.  I love to have a fresh garden salad with this roasted salmon.

Ingredients:

2 fillets of salmon (6-8oz)

1/4 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp of coarsely crushed black pepper

Zest of one lemon

Olive oil for drizzling.

Method:

Pat the fillets dry and arrange on a tin foil lined baking tray.

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Season fish with salt, pepper and lemon zest.

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Drizzle with olive oil

Bake at 350F for 25-30 mins.

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Now FEAST!

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Breakfast, Food

Baked Oatmeal with Walnuts and Figs

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Oatmeal is good for you.  It can also be really bland and boring.  The store bought instant packets are also filled with sugar.  So, I resort to baking my oatmeal.  It usually add some combination of fruits (fresh or dried) and/or nuts –but the base is always the same; oatmeal, yogurt, almond milk, honey and eggs.  I bake it in a casserole dish, or in a muffin tin; it really depends on what I am in the mood for.  I found some off-season figs and just had to buy them.  I also had half a bag of walnuts left from baking a walnut cake .  So, this week, my breakfast will consist of oatmeal, walnuts and figs ! I hope you make this recipe and remember, feel free to add any kind of fruit and/or nut that you like.

Ingredients:

3 cups oatmeal

2 eggs

8 oz plain or vanilla Greek yogurt

1.5 cups of almonds milk

a pinch of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla extract (I rarely measure these!!!)

chopped walnuts and figs for the topping

drizzles of honey

Methods:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix eggs, yogurt, almond milk with cinnamon and vanilla

 

Fold in 3 cups of oatmeal

Pour mixture into a greased 7×11″ baking dish.

 

Top with chopped walnuts and figs and press down with your hands

Drizzle with as much honey as you like (maple syrup would be a great alternative)

Bake for 25 mins.

Serve warm!

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Cake, Food

Walnut Cake with Raspberries

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Gateau Aux Noix–this rich an delicious cake comes from Julia Child’s ” Mastering the Art of French Cooking”–Volume II (if you have the book, it is page 490 in the 39th edition) !!  I had  previously made another one of Julia’s Walnut cakes called Le Brantome which is a fluffier cousin of this recipe.  Having make both cakes, I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite.  However, the richness of this particular cake, makes it more suitable for layering.

The recipe make one 9 by 1.5 inch cake.  I wanted two layers, so I doubled the recipe.  Here is what I did:

Ingredients:

2 cups of chopped walnuts

6 Tbsp of sugar, plus another 1 cup of sugar

2/3 cup all -purpose flour

6 large eggs

8 Tbsp of butter

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Method:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans.

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Grind 2 cups of walnuts with 6 Tbsp of sugar in a food processor.  You might want to do this in batches, depending on the size of your processor.  It is also important to add sugar with each batch of walnuts, it prevents the oils in the nuts to turn it into “butter” while grinding.

Mix the nut mixture with 2 cups of flour and pass the entire mixture through a sieve–this will separate out the larger chunks of nuts and allow for even incorporation of the the flour and nut mixture.

Next, cream butter, the remaining 1 cup of sugar till pale and creamy.  Then add the eggs and mix well.

Finally, slowly fold in the nut and flour mixture in batches, ensuring that each batch of the dry ingredients is well incorporated before the next batch is added.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.

Bake for 20 mins.

The cake is perfectly wonderful with just a dusting of sugar.  However, I used the two layers to turn it into a layered birthday cake.  Let me know walk you through the assembly.

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Assembling the cake–you will need:

Fresh Raspberries (filling and decoration)

Chocolate drizzle ( for decoration, I bought it !)

Walnuts ( whole and ground for decoration)

Crushed, freeze dried raspberries (for decoration)

1 batch of my Marscapone Whipped Cream Frosting

Note: For this cake, had about 4 cups of frosting leftover from the  Spice Cake that I made a few weeks ago.  I froze down the frosting, however when thawing, the frosting becomes loose and runny (bottom image on the left).  To fix it, add another 8oz of marscapone and 2-3 Tbsp of sugar–depending on how sweet you want it.

Assembling the cake is pretty easy.  I added a layers of frosting on the bottom cake, topped the frosting with raspberries and then pressed down the top cake layer.

Next I added a crumb coat to fill in all the holes and press down the crumbs.  Chill this for at least 10-15 mins.

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Next, I added the rest of the frosting, as patiently as I could to ensure a smooth surface and edges.

Finally, I decorated the cake according to the design I drew out, you can check that out here

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This time, I remembered to take a picture of the cake once we cut into it !

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Food, Mexican

Leftover Makeover

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Everyone struggles with leftovers.  They either don’t reheat well or it is just another boring repetitive meal.  I had taco meat leftover, not enough for a meal and certainly not worth buying 12 more taco shells.  I also had leftover rice (we had it with stir-fry) and it was not making a curry or turning it into fried rice—too many ingredients to buy to rescue rice!  Instead, I bought two green peppers and used it to make Stuffed Peppers!!!  I usually make Stuffed Peppers from scratch, but this time, I just mixed the rice with the beef and filled in the de-seeded, halved pepper shells.  The trick is to roast the shells with olive oil, salt and pepper  before–this softens the peppers and makes it easier to eat.  Roasted peppers smell delicious too!!! Fill the soft, roasted shells with leftover rice and beef mixture,  top with cheese and breadcrumbs, broil, and dinner is ready !!!

Food, Sides

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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A recipe for a super simple side.  In fact, it is hardly a recipe since I never measure the ingredients.   It also has also appealed to the palette of a certain “non-sweet-potato-fan”.  Give it a shot, maybe the even the pickiest of eaters in your house will enjoy it!

Things you will need:

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3 large sweet potatoes, cubed

Olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, pumpkin pie spice (or Cinnamon) and smoked paprika (use as much of each as you like).  I am heavy handed with the paprika–it is such a striking contrast to the sweetness from the potato and the honey.

Mix all the ingredients together.

Spread on a tin-foil lined baking sheet

Bake at 400F for 20-25mins, till the sweet potatoes are brown and soft

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Serve as a side or toss into a salad.

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Cake, Food

Spice Cake with Vanilla Orange filling and Whipped Marscapone frosting

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My dear friend from grad school defended her PhD last week.  Such a landmark occasion requires cake, not that one needs an excuse for cake.  I took some shortcuts, and made some things from scratch.  I even spent some time thinking about the decoration; I found that if you have it drawn out it makes cake decorating easier.  I hope you put this cake together for the next special occasion in your life.

Ingredients:

Boxed Cake mix: prepare per direction on the box–I believe in high quality store bought short cuts, and boxed cake mix is a go to.

Filling: I used my Orange, Cinnamon and Vanilla Bean pudding. I used the entire recipe, to fill the cake.  You can find the recipe here.

Frosting: I used my whipped marscapone frosting recipe.  The recipe will make a lot of frosting.  I only used a 1/3 of it to frost the cake.  I froze down the rest.  If you were to fill and frost the cake, you might use the whole batch.  Check out the recipe here.

Method:

Bake the cake according to package directions.  I baked it in two 9″inch cake pans that I oiled and floured.  Once baked, cool the cake completely and level off the domed top.  I use my handy Wilton Cake Leveler.

Now begins the decorating.  For this cake, I used cake rounds for the first time and it certainly made cleaning and frosting the cake easy.  Not to mention, moving the cake around (from the turntable to the fridge).  But before we frost, we must fill.  I used all of the pudding mixture to fill the cake.

Now, the hardest part-covering the cake with frosting.  This requires patience, a good turntable, an offset spatula and a steady hand.  I like clean neat edges, so I get very particular about this stage.  Of course, that is my preference.  Using a butter knife to spread the frosting is perfectly fine–it will taste the same.

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I usually do a “crumb coat”.  This is a thin layer of frosting that covers all the bumps and glues together the crumbs.  I allow this chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes and then I go in with the rest of the frosting and attempt to make smooth and as clean and neat as possible.

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I drew out the design for the cake and you can check it out here.  I also used candied oranges for this cake and I have the recipe for those here.  I will have to say, laying out the design before hand made a world of difference.  It was faster, cleaner and the end product looked more deliberate.  Moving forward, this might become my way of decorating–I like to call it the “paper to plate” method.

So here it is !

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Cake, Cupcakes, Food

Go to Frosting: Marscapone Whipped Cream

As a child I would eat the sugary sweet buttercream frosting off of birthday cakes and hand the cake to my mom.  Not anymore.  Buttercream is too sweet for me and I cannot go past one bite of it.  Buttercream is good and has it’s purpose, but for most of my cakes I try to use a light, slightly sweet whipped frosting.  This is one of my favorites and has only 4 ingredients.

Ingredients:

1, 8oz tub of marscapone cheese (this adds richness)

1 pint of heavy whipping cream

1/8 cup of sugar ( I told you, it is not sweet at all!)

1 tsp of vanilla extract

Method:

  • Bring the marscapone to room temperature, this will help soften the cheese easily.
  • Add the entire tube of cheese to a stand-mixer (or mixing bowl) and add 1/2 cup of heavy cream.

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  • Gently mix the cream and cheese till smooth, scrape down the edges to make sure all the cheese and cream are smooth and blended together

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  • Now add the rest of cream and whisk till soft-peaks start to appear.
  • Add in the vanilla and sugar
  • Whisk till is reaches stiff peaks.

Notes: This will make a lot of frosting and depending on the size of your cake and how you choose to use it, you may or may not have leftovers.  Leftovers are good with fruit, dolloped on any other kind of dessert.  I also freeze leftovers.  However, when you thaw it, it will lose its whipped consistency; you can fix this my adding more marscapone to turn it into a thinker, frosting.  You can also add pudding mix to make a thick filling/dessert.

 

Dessert, Food

Orange, Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Pudding

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This is a flavorful way to jazz up boxed pudding mix.  The finished product can be enjoyed on its own or used to fill cakes, top fruit or layer in a trifle.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 box of Godiva white chocolate vanilla bean pudding mix (good stuff, yum !)
  • peel of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • candied oranges or other dried fruit and nuts for garnish.

Method:

  • Add peel of 1 orange, 2 cinnamon sticks to 2 cups of milk and gently simmer for 15-20 mins.

 

  • Cool the flavored milk completely.
  • Strain the milk to remove peel and sticks.

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  • Mix in the pudding mixture, whisking vigorously to avoid lumps.

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  • Once the pudding starts to thicken, stir in orange zest and ground cinnamon (Use a spoon/spatula for this step–the zest will wrap into the wires of the whisk).

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  • Serve chilled with candied oranges and golden raisins.  Nuts would taste really good too.

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Food, Treats

Candied Oranges

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A sweet treat that reminds me of orange marmalade.  Great for snacking or decorating desserts!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large and 1 small orange, sliced

Method:

  • Add sugar to water and bring to a boil to dissolve.   Then lower the heat to a gentle simmer.

 

  • In the mean time, slice oranges.

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  • Add oranges to the sugar syrup and simmer for 30-40 mins till the liquid has reduced by half

 

  • Cool orange slices on a wire cooling rack (place the rack on a baking sheet, there will be drips of syrup to clean up)

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  • Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.  For longer storage, refrigerate.