Pork Chops & Green Beans

It’s Tuesday morning at the end of August and it feels like its about 65 degrees outside! I couldn’t believe it when I took the dog for a walk this morning. I’m sad that this Summer seems to have flown by but I’ll be honest, I detected a bit of an Autumn chill in the air this morning and it got me thinking about hot apple cider, pumpkin cookies, hearty comfort food and cozy sweaters. Fall is my favorite time of year and I am looking forward to it but yes, I know, its still Summer and I have some easy and delicious recipes for you today.

Some of my favorite meals come together when I’m looking for something new and easy and this is what happened last week. I had just picked a large bowl of fresh green beans from our little garden and had picked up some beautiful pork chops at Central Market that day. I found a simple recipe for the pork chops, using fresh rosemary and garlic and was planning to steam the green beans as the side dish however I found myself wishing for a more exciting green bean recipe. I pulled out my phone and started searching on my Epicurious App and a I found a recipe for green beans that included bacon and garlic. Sold.

To make the pork chops, combine the minced garlic, chopped rosemary, salt and olive oil. Rub the mixture all over both side of the pork chops and allow them to sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.

After cleaning and trimming the green beans, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes to get them to start cooking. While they’re cooking, heat up a saute pan on low and cook the bacon until the fat has rendered and it is crisp. The recipe calls for turkey bacon, to make it healthier, however I only had regular bacon and used that. Either one will work just fine, its up to your preference. Once the bacon is crisp, add the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the blanched green beans to the pan. Toss to allow the flavors to combine, sprinkle with fresh oregano and season with salt and pepper.

Also, while the green beans are cooking, cook the pork chops. You can choose to either cook them under the broiler or on the grill. We didn’t feel like firing up the grill so we chose the broiler, however next time I think I’ll choose the grill; everything just tastes better on the grill.

Plate it up and voila! You’ve got a healthy, fresh and delicious dinner!

The pork chops had a lot of flavor and tasted great and check out a close up of those green beans, the bacon just calls to me… I may not make green beans without bacon ever again.

Both recipes came from Epicurious here are the links to both:

Green Beans with Oregano and Bacon

Rosemary Pork Chops

April Dinner Club

Given the fact that today is the last day in May, I think its time I fill you all in on April’s Dinner club. April was a difficult theme to choose. We wanted something that was seasonal and reflective of Spring. Early Spring can be a weird time seasonally because all the Winter produce is no longer as good and no one wants to eat heavy meals anymore yet the Summer produce isn’t ready to be eaten yet. Perhaps that’s why Easter candy  is one of the first things I think of when trying to come up with a Spring theme ingredient! We did all finally agree on the theme ingredient mint.

We were chosen to cook the main course this month and mint is not an herb that I find myself using very often; I loved being forced to use it in a recipe that  was not a salad or a dessert. Immediately, lamb came to mind as a good protein to go with mint however I’ll admit lamb intimidates me. I made braised lamb for Christmas this year and I killed it; it was so dry that I think it resembled jerky more than the braised lamb I was going for. After that incident, I haven’t attempted lamb again. I tried to look up other recipes involving mint but kept coming back to lamb.

After finally giving in to the lamb I needed to find a recipe that cooked the lamb in a relatively short period of time, due to the fact that dinner club in progressive, I’d only have about 30 minutes to get everything together. I came upon a recipe for lamb that was marinated and grilled. It got excellent reviews online and seemed very simple, sold. The bonus was that dinner club was scheduled for the week following Easter and I scored a nice cut of lamb on super sale!

This recipe turned out better than I ever could have imagined. Not only was the lamb perfectly medium rare but the marinade had made the meat incredibly tender and flavorful. We devoured the entire thing and all agreed that, it had been the best dinner club to date. The marinade contained some Asian flavors which I’m convinced made the dish especially good. This is the first recipe I made from my new Jacques Pepin cookbook that Eric bought me for Christmas and it was the perfect choice.

Like I said, this dish was beyond easy but be sure to marinate it the day before. Prep all the ingredients including cutting the string mesh from the lamb roast. I had double the amount of meat so I doubled the marinade. Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl and then pour it over the lamb in a large freezer bag.

Turn the bag a few times in the fridge.

The following day, sear the lamb on a hot grill for about 7 minutes per side and then bring it inside to finish in the oven. The recipe calls for the oven to be 170 degrees. I was skeptical at first thinking it was not hot enough, but as I do with all first time recipes, I followed it. I was right, 170 is not hot enough to get the meat cooking more and I ended up turning the oven up to 250 degrees and cooking it another 15 minutes. By then, the lamb was perfectly medium rare.

**Do not cook lamb more than medium, ideally you want it rare to medium rare otherwise the flavor gets weird and its incredibly dry. The exception to this is of course when braising lamb, that can be cooked longer and is delicious but grilling the lamb or lamb chops you want to cook rare-medium rare.**

Here it is in its glory:

While the lamb was cooking, I cooked down the marinade in a small saucepan and poured it over the lamb when it went into the oven. It was SO GOOD!

We all wanted to lick our plates. I served two sides, green beans with crispy shallots and fresh mint.

I also braised carrots and brussel sprouts and tossed them with balsamic vinegar.

These were also a hit. The only thing I had leftovers of was the green beans. The mint was fresh and light in all the dishes, a great theme ingredient.

I won’t leave out the other courses! However, we forgot to take any pictures of those at all this month, sorry! The first course was an amazing Asian spring roll with shrimp and stuffed with rice noodles and mint. They were beautiful, fresh and light; a perfect starter. They were accompanied by strawberry mojitos.

The third course was a chocolate and mint trifle with chocolate shavings on top. It was cool and sweet, not to mention pretty. Chocolate is always a great way to end a meal.

So there you have it, the quick overview of April’s Dinner Club! Now, on to May and hopefully some warmer weather again.

Linguine Alfredo with Roasted Mushrooms and Asparagus

This is another recipe inspired by Pinterest. Something about seeing a nice picture of something delicious just makes me want to eat it immediately. I’m always up for trying a new pasta dish and this one used alfredo sauce, a sauce that I had never actually made before and it ended up being so easy! I love the combination of the roasted asparagus and mushrooms and the lemon juice cuts the heaviness of the cream very nicely. I ended up making the recipe I found my own by using an alfredo recipe from my Giada cookbook.

Prep the asparagus, mushrooms and garlic and combine them with mustard and olive oil in a bowl until well coated.

Roast the the asparagus and mushrooms on a baking sheet with minced garlic and olive oil.

Bring water to boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Combine the cream and lemon juice in a deep fry pan and add the butter over medium-low heat until melted, remove it from the heat until pasta is ready.

Add the cooked pasta to the cream mixture, pour over another 1/2 cup of cream, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Toss well and cook over medium heat until thickened.

Toss in the mushrooms and asparagus into the pasta and serve with extra cheese on top.

 

 The sauce is so creamy yet the lemon juice keeps it light. As person who typically prefers red sauce to white, I was initially skeptical of this dish but in the end it has won me over completely. It’s simple, quick, cheap and delicious!

Here’s the recipe:

Linguine Alfredo with Roasted Mushrooms and Asparagus
Print
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. asparagus, tough ends snapped off
  • 3-4 cups whole mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup strained lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Creole or coarse-grain mustard
  • 8 ounces uncooked linguine
  • 1 recipe Guiltless Alfredo Sauce
  • Optional: Grilled chicken breast or sauteed shrimp
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine trimmed asparagus and sliced mushrooms. Zest the lemons (enough to get 1 tablespoon of zest) and set the zest aside.
  3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and mustard. Drizzle over the veggies and toss to combine. Spread the veggies out onto the prepared baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until the asparagus is tender but not mushy. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5-10 minutes.
  4. While the veggies are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and, when the water is ready, cook pasta al dente. Prepare the Alfredo sauce. After you’ve added the cheese, add the reserved lemon zest to the sauce. When the asparagus and mushrooms are done roasting, you can either portion out the pasta, veggies, and sauce into individual servings or toss it all together. Serves 6-8.

 

Steamed Pork Buns

I hope that you all enjoyed your Easter. Eric and I spent a much needed low key Easter at home, catching up on sleep, relaxing and having a nice dinner with my family on Sunday; it was just what we needed. I didn’t cook much this weekend, which was nice for a change, just a simple breakfast on Sunday and that was it. Eric had been traveling on business for all of last week so it was great to spend some time just the two of us, relaxing.

The recipe I have for you today is one that I made a few weeks back, while Eric was golfing one Sunday afternoon. The recipe is not hard, but it does require a good amount of time because of the fact that it has homemade dough and uses yeast. Anytime you make something with yeast you know it will take a while because the yeast inevitably will need to rise. I made these steamed pork buns in between making a dessert and doing laundry and watching TV, like I said, easy.

If you enjoy the steamed dumplings or pot stickers from an Asian restaurant, then this is a great recipe for you. I personally always order steamed pot stickers, they are so delicious. Give me those and an egg roll and I’m one happy girl. I found this recipe on Pinterest, of course, and adapted it.

Start this recipe by cooking the pork tenderloin which will become the base of the filling in the buns. Coat the pork tenderloin with chinese five spice powder and cook in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, turning over half way through. Slice crosswise and refrigerate to cool.

While the pork is cooking, start the dough.  Combine the warm water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand for 5 minutes until it looks foamy. Use the dough hook attachment on your mixer (if you have one) to mix the ingredients for the together. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Place dough into a bowl sprayed with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.

Once the dough is rising and the pork is cut and cooled, shred it with your fingers into a medium size bowl and add the onions and next 7 ingredients to the pork and mix well.

Cover and refrigerate.

One the dough has risen, punch it down with your fist and allow it to sit for another5 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide it into 10 equal portions.

Roll those portions into balls.

Use a rolling pin to roll the ball into a 5in circle. Fill the center with about 2 tablespoons of the pork mixture and gently fold all the sides up.

Twist the side together to seal the dumpling. Do this for all 10 dumplings.

To cook, steam the dumplings in a steamer, if using a metal steamer, spray with non-stick spray before putting in the dumplings to prevent sticking.

**Uncooked dumplings can be frozen on a tray individually and then placed into a ziplock bag in the freezer. These will keep for up to 6 months. To cook, simply pull out of freezer and steam for longer than the unfrozen dumplings. I did this with 4 of the dumplings and it was one of the best frozen leftover meals we’ve ever had, plus it was SO easy! **

Steam the dumplings until the puff up, about 15 minutes.

Serve with dumpling dipping sauce.

These dumplings were so good and worth all the work and waiting time. I was so proud of myself for making something that tasted like it came from the local Asian place we get take-out from. Plus, it made 2 dinners and 2 lunches, not to shabby for 1 recipe!

 

Here’s the full recipe adapted from Cooking Light and the dipping sauce is from PF Changs:

Steamed Pork Buns
Print
Author: Adapted from Cooking Light, Dipping Sauce from PF Changs
Prep time: 3 hours
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 4 hours
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • Filling:
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dough:
  • 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 14 2/3 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Dipping Sauce:
  • cup water
  • cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, ground
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. To prepare the filling, rub five-spice powder evenly over pork. Cook pork on for 40 minutes, turning half way through. Remove pork from pan, and let stand 15 minutes.
  2. Cut pork crosswise into thin slices; cut slices into thin strips. Place pork in a medium bowl. Add onions and next 7 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt); stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. To prepare dough, combine 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes.
  4. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)
  5. Punch dough down; let rest 5 minutes. Turn dough out onto a clean surface; knead in baking powder. Let dough rest 5 minutes.
  6. Divide dough into 10 equal portions, forming each into a ball. Working with one dough ball at a time (cover remaining dough balls to keep from drying), roll ball into a 5-inch circle. Place 1/4 cup filling in center of dough circle. Bring up sides to cover filling and meet on top. Pinch and seal closed with a twist. Repeat procedure with remaining dough balls and filling.
  7. Arrange 5 buns seam side down, 1 inch apart, in each tier of a 2-tiered bamboo steamer. Stack tiers; cover with lid.
  8. Add water to a large skillet to a depth of 1 inch; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Place steamer in pan; steam 15 minutes or until puffed and set. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

 

Sweet Potato Hash

I hope you all enjoyed my blogiversary last week, it was fun to share some more details about me with all of you. This week, is the week of Easter and lucky for me, I won’t be cooking at all this weekend. I just get to attend dinner with my family and enjoy it. I will probably be making a nice breakfast for Eric and I on Saturday and the recipe I have today works great for breakfast or for dinner. This was the first recipe I made from my new Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook and its very simple and delicious. It combines two of my favorite foods, mushrooms and sweet potatoes into a sweet potato hash.

Once your ingredients are prepped, boil the sweet potato for about 10 minutes to cook.

Combine the cooked sweet potato, mushrooms, onions and rest of the ingredients together in a bowl.

Saute over medium high heat until soft and browned.

Serve as a side for dinner, as pictured below, or next to eggs and bacon for breakfast or brunch.

This is such a simple and so tasty dish. The touch of maple syrup really plays well with the flavors and makes it a great accompaniment to breakfast. After the way this turned out, I can’t wait to cook more recipes from Tupelo Honey Cafe.

Here’s the recipe:

Sweet Potato Hash
Print
Author: Tupelo Honey Cafe
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded, caps thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions, white and green parts
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tupelo honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Add the sweet potato and blanch for about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are just fork tender. Remove the potatoes and transfer to an ice bath.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and saute the mushrooms for 3 to 4 minutes, until just tender, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potato, mushrooms, green onions, sage, hot pepper sauce, honey, salt, and pepper. In a nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat and add the potato mixture. Saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is caramelized.
  4. Serve immediately.

Dinner Club – March

As promised last week, I’m finally (after battling it out with a case of bronchitis) back to regale you with our March Dinner Club experience which was also our St. Patrick’s Day celebration. When choosing the date for this month’s club, we all noticed that St. Patrick’s Day was on a Saturday and that all of our schedules were free so naturally we choose that to be the date of our club and we choose traditional Irish fare as the theme. Eric and I ended up with the dessert course this time, if you remember last month we had the appetizer course, read more about that here.

Being of Irish heritage and having visited Ireland were definitely an advantage for this theme, however dessert was probably the most difficult course to research. Go ahead and Google it, not one major dessert will appear, if you’re even able to find one that is definitively Irish. In the end I did find a lot of apple cakes, recipes that combined Guinness and chocolate (not unlike the Stout Cake I made last week) and many that contained Irish Whiskey. I found one that was from an Irish restaurant and was for a white bread pudding with a caramel whiskey sauce. This recipe was different than most of the other and I liked that it deviated from the popular Bailey’s Irish Creme, or Guinness and chocolate ingredients. It also stated that this recipe “was the best thing you’ll ever taste in your life” if that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.

Start the recipe by soaking the raisins in whiskey and set that aside until the very end.

Remove the crusts from the white bread (I just used white sandwich bread, nothing fancy) and lightly brush with melted butter.

Toast one side under the broiler until it just begins to brown.

Remove from the oven and, once cooled, cut into cubes.

While prepping the bread cubes, combine the milk and heavy cream in a medium size sauce pan. Cut a vanilla bean lengthwise and use a knife to scrape out all the black seeds into the cream mixture. Put the vanilla pod into the cream and slowly bring to a boil, watch it carefully so that it doesn’t boil over.

Once it boils, immediately remove the pot from the heat (to avoid scalding the milk). Take out the vanilla pod and chill until cooled, about an hour.

Once the cream mixture is cool, whisk together the eggs and sugar.

Add in the cream mixture. Stir in the bread cubes and raisins and let the whole thing sit for about 15 minutes.

Pour the whole mixture into a buttered baking dish and dot more butter.

Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees until set, about an hour.

While that’s baking, make the caramel whiskey sauce.

Melt and sugar and water over medium heat stirring slowly until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Boil the mixture without stirring for about 30 minutes, until it just starts to caramelize (a hint of golden color).

While that’s caramelizing, warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat.

Once the caramel is ready, add butter and whipping cream. Stir over medium heat until smooth, 1-2 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool. Now you can store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it. Once its time to serve, add in the whiskey and more cream until the sauce reaches the consistency you want.

Drizzle sauce over a big piece of bread pudding.

I was told it tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch on a Saturday morning, as a child. And everyone had seconds on dessert. All in all, the bread pudding was a great success! Not to mention, it was pretty easy. We have some sauce left over and Eric just asked if I would make another batch to “finish up” the sauce.

Here is the link to the recipe I found online.

Irish Bread Pudding with Caramel Whiskey Sauce

Since we started this post with dessert first, I guess I’ll go back and tell you about the first two courses. We began at the first house with some home made Irish Soda bread and Irish Rarebit. Yep, I know what you’re thinking, “Do you mean rabbit? Did you eat rabbit?” Nope. That’s what I thought when they first said what they were serving, too. But in fact, there is no rabbit to be found in this dish, nor does it look like a rabbit. Wikipedia only had an explanation for Welsh Rarebit but it states:

Welsh rarebit is a dish made with a savoury sauce of melted cheese and various other ingredients and served hot over toast. The names of the dish originate from 18th century Great Britain.Welsh rarebit is typically made with Cheddar cheese, in contrast to the Continental European fondue which classically depends on Swiss cheeses.

The Irish rarebit includes Guinness and cheese in the sauce. We all forgot cameras so I’ll pull one from the internet so you can get an idea of what it looks like.

Rarebit Recipe

After some rarebit and beers, we moved on to the second house and the main course.

We enjoyed some delicious Shepards Pie. Again, photo stolen from Pinterest because we forgot to take pictures.

Individual shepards pie

Finishing with the bread pudding was perfect. We all felt happy and comfy, just like you should after eating an Irish meal because it’s probably windy and rainy outside the window.

Thanks again to all our dinner club couples for putting in a wonderful effort to making great dishes. Can’t wait for April!

Irish Boxty

I love the fact that Americans celebrate their heritage so strongly in so many ways around the country and perhaps one of the best examples of that is St. Patrick’s Day. Americans who have any ounce of Irish blood in their veins assume the roll of a proud Irish American on this day that we celebrate luck, the color green and of course, beer. I’ll freely admit, that I too am one of those Americans and because I happen to look like I just stepped off of the shores of the Emerald Isle, I will inform you that I do have quite a bit of Irish blood in my veins. My heritage is made up primarily of German and Irish heritage. My father’s mother is Irish and my father’s father was German. My mother’s father, also Irish and her mother had English and Croatian blood. I’ve been able to do the ancestry.com thing and found out that some of my Irish ancestors came from County Donegal in Ireland, a very cool discovery. We’ve got a line of O’Connors, Fagans and Pauls that stretch back, just to name a few.

Eric’s family has been over in the US much longer than my family, which is pretty cool. I’m almost certain that he probably has a relative who has fought in ever major American war! We’ve been told that his heritage is Scottish and he may even have some links to the Vikings, among other things. He does have a great grandmother who was Irish though and on St. Patty’s Day, that’s all that matters!

Sidenote: As a teenager, one of my first jobs was working as a hostess at Chi-Chi’s Restaurant. Because of my fair complexion, freckles and very red hair I was often asked why, as someone who was Irish, was I working at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant? This was very strange to me and yet it happened frequently. I though Chi-Chi’s was a pretty American restaurant… Oh, well, I sometimes forget how Irish I truly look!

This weekend we’ll be celebrating with friends and a traditional Irish feast, however, as mentioned on Monday, I did make some Irish meals this week to celebrate this time of year and one of them was Irish Boxty. Here is a picture of it from a restaurant (not mine!):

Irish Boxty is the equivalent of the French crepe. It’s a potato based, pancake like dough that the Irish fill with meat, poultry or veggies usually with a cream sauce. I also equate it to the American chicken and waffles. It’s delicious.

When we visited Ireland a few years ago, we went to an exclusively boxty restaurant one evening, in Dublin. The food was fantastic and very economically priced. I recommend a good boxty dinner who anyone going to Ireland.

A few nights ago, I tried my hand at my very first Irish Boxty dinner. I had a more difficult time finding a good recipe for the filling, so I found one and then amended it to my tastes but I was able to find a good boxty recipe on Foodnetwork.com.

Start the boxty by pealing all the potatoes and boil half in salted water to make mashed potatoes. Grate the other half of the raw potatoes. (I used the food processor to make it easy on my arm.)

The grated potato end up being a bit larger than had you done it by hand but the labor saved is worth it.

Once the other half of the potato has been mashed, put both kinds of potato into a large bowl along with the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix it together well.

Slowly add in the buttermilk until you have a thick batter consistency. Eyeball it, you will likely not use all of the buttermilk.

Set the batter aside while you make the filling. I chose a chicken and cream sauce filling. Once your ingredients are prepped, cook the chicken in a large frying pan over medium high heat until it’s just cooked through. Then add the chopped shallots and cook for another few minutes.

Add the mushrooms to the mixture and cook until they’ve released their moisture. Add in the madiera and cook down for about 5 minutes.

Add in the cream and milk and stir well. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Now cook the boxty cakes on a medium griddle, just like you’d cook pancakes.

Top the hot boxty with the filling and serve alongside a pretty green vegetable.

Talk about yum! Mushrooms, cream, madiera, chicken, potato; good, good, good and goo-ood! The whole dish took me about an hour to make because I had to boil and mash the potatoes first. I’d recommend using some leftover mashed potatoes for you guys to shorten the cook time and reuse those potatoes. Leftover mashed potatoes are never that great anyway so this is a great way to reuse them!

And so I leave you with this Irish proverb:

For every wound, a balm.
For every sorrow, cheer.
For every storm, a calm.
For every thirst, a beer.

I wish you a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and a fun weekend! I’ll be back next week with a full recap of our traditional Irish feast!

Here’s the boxty with chicken and cream recipe:

Irish Boxty
Print
Author: Adapted from Food Network
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Boxty Pancakes
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) freshly cooked potatoes
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) peeled raw potatoes
  • 8 ounces (225 grams/ generous 1 1/2 cups) white flour
  • 1/4 American teaspoon baking powder (1/2 Irish teaspoon bread soda), sifted *see note
  • 8 to 12 fluid ounces (225 to 300 millileters/1 to 1 1/2 cups) buttermilk
  • Pinch salt (optional)
  • Butter, for frying
  • Note: an Irish tablespoon is the same quantity as an American tablespoon plus a teaspoon
  • Chicken & Cream Filling
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 8 oz. sliced button mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup madiera
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
Instructions
  1. Boxty Pancakes
  2. Peel the cooked potatoes while they are still hot, drop into a bowl and mash immediately. Grate the raw potatoes, add to the mashed potatoes with the flour and sifted bread soda. Mix well, and add enough buttermilk to make a stiff batter.
  3. Heat a frying pan, grease with butter and cook large or small pancakes in the usual way.
  4. Chicken & Cream Filling
  5. Heat olive oil, in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add in cubed chicken and cook until just cooked through, about 7-10 minutes. Add the chopped shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, until they have released all their moisture. Pour in the madiera and reduce until there is about 1 tablespoon left, about 5 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream and milk and stir well. Lower heat to medium and simmer to thicken, 2-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Beer Mac n Cheese

Last week, while perusing Pinterest, I spotted this picture:

It had the description: beer mac n cheese. I clicked and it took me to the blog, How Sweet it Is with the full recipe. The author compared the taste of it to beer and cheese soup and it looked nice and easy to make.

Now, I don’t love the typical mac n cheese. Cheese itself has never been one of my favorite foods, on its own. I like it on pizza and used in recipes, but eating it straight or a dish like mac n cheese has never really been my thing. But add in some beer and this is now a dish I could get along with!

I did adapt the recipe according to my tastes. Start the dish by cooking the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside. You can use whole wheat pasta in this recipe, it holds up to the cheese sauce well and makes the dish a bit healthier. While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.

Once melted, add the diced onion and cook for about 5-7 minutes until translucent but not brown.

Add the flour and stir. Cook, stirring, until the mixture gets a nice golden color, about 2 minutes.

Add the milk, beer and cheeses, while stirring. Stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture thickens slightly. Add the paprika, nutmeg and pepper.

Pour the cheese over the noodles in a stir slightly.

Top with bread crumbs and some parmesan cheese and small pieces of butter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling. Top with sliced fresh basil.

Serve with a side of arugula tossed with vinaigrette.

The mac n cheese tasted good. The consistency was great with the whole wheat pasta and I enjoyed the fresh basil however I think next time I will add Gruyere cheese instead of parmesan and use a darker beer. I only had Yeungling in on hand so that’s what I used this time and I would like liked more of a beer taste. The whole thing was good, I just found myself wanting stronger flavors. I can’t wait to make it again!

Here is the recipe:

Beer Mac n Cheese
Print
Author: adapted from How Sweet It Is
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow noodles
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 8 ounces milk
  • 8 ounces beer
  • 8 ounces freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces freshly grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 10 large basil leaves, chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Prepare water for pasta and boil according to directions, shaving 1-2 minutes off of cooking time since pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
  3. Heat a saucepan over medium high heat and add butter. Once melted and sizzling, cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour to create a roux and cook until bubbly and golden in color, about 2 minutes. Add milk and beer into saucepan whisking constantly, then add cheeses and stir until melted. Turn heat down to medium and continue to stir, cooking for 5-6 minutes while mixture thickens. It will most likely NOT thicken like regular mac and cheese because of the beer, but you want it to thicken a little bit. Stir in pepper, paprika and nutmeg.
  4. Add noodles (once cooked and drained) to a casserole dish, then pour cheese over top, mixing gently to combine. Top with panko bread crumbs and an additional sprinkle of cheese if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then top with fresh basil.

 

Beer Braised Chicken

I saw this recipe while browsing FoodNetwork.com and thought it looked great. Anything that uses beer and creates a stew is an automatic winner in our house. Although this Winter has been relatively mild compared to the last few years, I’m still trying to make as much stew as possible since it will soon be warm and stew is never as satisfying when it can’t warm you up.

To start the beer braised chicken, cook the cubed bacon in your stew pot until browned.

Using a slotted spoon, remove it to a plated lined with a paper towel. Add olive oil to the hot pot.

While the bacon was cooking, you should have seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and then dredged it in flour. (The recipe calls for chicken thighs here, but Eric loves drumsticks so I choose to get a variety of thighs and drumsticks. Since they are both in the dark meat family, you can easily substitute your favorite cut of chicken but I do recommend using bone-in chicken, it gives the dish alot more flavor.)

Cook the chicken in the hot oil until nicely browned and then flip over to brown the opposite side.

Yes, the one side of the chicken got a little dark. Hey, it happens! Perhaps this is an example of one of the very few bad reasons to have a TV in the kitchen…perhaps.

Once all sides of the chicken is browned, add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. I used Yeungling Lager as my beer of choice simply because that’s what we had in the fridge. Next time, I would like to try something a bit darker simply for more depth of flavor, but it worked well. I also added carrots to this recipe as per some of the reviews and added it to the recipe, they add a great component that the stew was lacking.

Simmer uncovered for about 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pot and whisk in a mixture of cornstarch and water to thicken the sauce, if desired.

Add the chicken back to the pot, top with fresh parsley and the cooked bacon.

Serve.

The stew was really flavorful and I liked the beer flavors along with the mustard and chicken. You can see the thyme and whole grain mustard seeds throughout the dish. This whole meal was ready in about 45 minutes on a week night and was low in fat! It’s definitely a keeper.

Here’s the recipe from FoodNetwork.com:

Beer Braised Chicken
Print
Author: Adapted from Food Network Kitchens
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1/4 pound slab or thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (preferably brown ale)
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 1/2 pound small red-skinned new potatoes, halved
  • 1 pound sliced carrots
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon water plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch (if desired)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off the excess. Add the olive oil to the drippings in the pot. Add the chicken in batches and cook over medium-high heat until golden on the bottom, 6 to 7 minutes, then flip and sear the other side, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the beer, onions, potatoes, mustard, sugar, thyme and 1 cup water to the pot and stir, making sure the chicken is fully submerged. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Discard the thyme and stir in the bacon and parsley.
  4. Remove chicken from pot. Whisk in the water and cornstarch mixture for a thicker sauce. Add chicken back to pot and serve.

 

 

 

Not you mother’s beef stroganoff

I grew up eating beef stroganoff a few times a year and always enjoyed it. The beef flavor along with mushrooms and sour cream, over pasta, sign me up! I recall even requesting it as a birthday meal once. It’s safe to say that I really do love the stuff. I think I grew up eating a very traditional and basic recipe for it which consisted of cooking the floured beef cubes, allowing them to simmer with the mushrooms and finally mixing in the sour cream right before it was time to eat. The first year I was married, I called up my mother, wrote down her recipe and proudly made my very first beef stroganoff.

Eric was less than impressed. Picture the wind in my sails going down, fast. He was not as into the eggs noodles covered in sour cream sauce as I had been. I mean, I still thought it tasted delicious, but I could tell he was forcing it down. Since then, I’ve enjoyed my childhood beef stroganoff only once or twice; I just can’t watch Eric try and eat it so I stopped making it, until last year.

While paging through an issue of Bon Appetit, I came across a new version of beef stroganoff in which I could leave out the egg noodles and instead serve it over toasted bread. It also used sherry and shallots, two things my old beef stroganoff was without. I made the recipe and quickly won back Eric’s heart. Admittedly, it was better than the stuff I grew up with and has become our beef stroganoff staple recipe.

The recipe itself is not complicated, but it does have a few steps, especially when it comes to assembling the final dish.

Start by prepping the ingredients and then cooking the mushrooms. Melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms until they release their liquid, about 6 minutes.**Try to get a mushroom medley or more than one kind of mushrooms, like white and cremini. The varieties add great flavor.**

Add the sherry or vermouth and simmer the mushrooms until the liquid reduces, about 1 minute. Take off heat and stir in creme fresh or heavy cream, season with salt and pepper. Let sit while you cook the beef.

In a separate skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Cook the beef for about 30 seconds on each side to sear it.

Transfer beef to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the sliced shallots to the skillet and cook until brown, about 4 minutes.

Stir in flour and tomato paste and stir around, it will clump. Add in broth and paprika.

Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the beef cubes back into the sauce and remove from heat.

Stir in sour cream.

While the sauce is cooking, toast the sourdough slices. Mix together olive oil and tomato paste and spread on one side of the bread slice.

Toast about a minute per side under the broiler, on a large baking sheet.

To assemble, spoon some of the beef mixture onto the toast.

Top with a scoop of the mushroom mixture.

This dish is so good and I love the use of tomato paste on the toast, it adds such a great flavor to the dish. If you like mushrooms, you will love this recipe!

Here is the recipe from Epicurious.com:

Tri-Tip Beef Stroganoff with Wild Mushrooms on Sourdough Toasts
Print
Author: Bon Appetit
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound assorted fresh wild mushrooms (such as chanterelle, oyster, crimini, and stemmed shiitake), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup dry white vermouth or dry Sherry
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1 1/2-pound tri-tip roast, excess fat trimmed, meat cut against grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices, slices cut crosswise into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 4 large)
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 6 5 x 3 x 1/2-inch slices crusty sourdough bread
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Instructions
  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sliced wild mushrooms to skillet; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper and sauté until mushrooms release juices, about 6 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté until mushrooms are tender and brown, about 4 minutes longer. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Remove from heat. Let stand at room temperature.
  2. Add vermouth to mushrooms and boil until almost evaporated but still moist, scraping up browned bits, about 1 minute. Stir in crème fraîche; remove from heat. Season to taste with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Cover; set aside.
  3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in another large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add beef slices to skillet and sauté just until brown outside but still pink in center, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer beef slices to plate; sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Add sliced shallots to same skillet, reduce heat to medium, and sauté until golden brown and tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in flour and 1 teaspoon tomato paste (mixture will clump). Add broth and paprika and whisk to blend, scraping up browned bits. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Season sauce to taste with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons oil and 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste in small bowl to blend. Arrange bread slices in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Brush oil-tomato paste mixture lightly over both sides of bread slices. Broil bread just until lightly toasted, watching closely to avoid burning, about 1 minute per side. Arrange sourdough toasts on large platter.
  5. Add beef slices and any accumulated juices to shallot mixture in skillet; bring to simmer, stirring occasionally, then stir in sour cream. Remove from heat. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper. Rewarm mushroom mixture over medium heat.
  6. Divide beef mixture among toasts, then top each with mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.