Pumpkin Crunch Tart

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For the second day of our Christmas series, I thought I’d start out this post with a small confession: I had never once tried a pumpkin pie until one year ago, at Thanksgiving.

I dunno why exactly. It could be because our family has ALWAYS been sweet potato pie eaters and although the two aren’t the same, it is typically a kind of  thing that most between choose between rather than having both. Most pumpkin pie also has a different flavor profile than sweet potato pie;  not only does it have a different texture, the spices also tend to pack more of a punch.

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For a while, the latter was the reason that I never really tried or thought it was even worth my while to try pumpkin pie. For most of my life, I was used to the sweeter, less spicy flavor of my grandmother’s sweet potato pie. Although I’d been using pumpkin spice in other baked goods,  pumpkin pie remained the final frontier that I hadn’t tried. It’s not like I thought I would HATE it, I just had the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mindset and stuck to my tried and true sweet potato pie.

This year however, I was feeling a bit more adventurous.

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If I had to give one qualm I have with not only pumpkin pie, but (yes) even sweet potato pie and smooth custard/cream pies in general, it’s that they often lack a textural component to break up that ‘smoothness’ and not have it be so one note. I don’t really go for those super thick and high cream pies that make you bite through two inches of cream and still you’re not really end up ‘chewing’ anything. I could go for something crunchy or a least with a small amount of texture to contrast it. It’s really that idea of wanting to try pumpkin pie with texture that inspired this recipe. I found and used a pumpkin pie recipe that I trusted (Bobby Flay has never let me down yet) and modified it to suit my purposes.

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Altogether this a SOLID dessert guys. The crust is an easy and far less labor intensive one than typical homemade pie crust and it will taste much better than a pre-made one you bought at a store. Use a good gingersnap though; one you would want to eat all on it’s own. If gingersnaps aren’t your thing, you can definitely use graham crackers too though. The filling is what I think a good pumpkin pie should be; there’s a good balance of deep caramel flavor from the molasses and brown sugar and spiciness of the seasoning. What’s more, letting it chill in the fridge overnight gives the spices enough time to really soak into the pumpkin puree so that the flavor is as pronounced as possible. I think the thing that makes this pie really special is the addition of the cinnamon crunch topping that gets sprinkled on top just before eating. It reminds me of a crunchy, spicy oatmeal cookie and it provides the perfect textural contrast that I think these kind of pies so desperately need so that you’re not eating soft and mushy on soft and mushy.

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Another thing, I said this in the recipe itself, but I’ll go ahead and say it again here. I know that most people don’t have rectangle tart pans (or any tart pans at all) just sitting around their kitchen–not unless you’re a baking fiend with an addiction to bakeware (like someone I know). That’s fine. This recipe will absolutely work in a 9 or 10 inch pie dish, you’ll probably just have an excess of crust that you don’t have to use, and you’ll need to increase your baking time in the oven.

Look y’all, when I took my first bite of this pie warmed up with a smattering of whipped cream, I just had to sigh and give The Head Shake. You know which one I mean. The one you give when what you’re eating is almost TOO delicious. It was absurdly good.

(And yes, in case you were wondering). Just as good as sweet potato pie.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Stuffing Bread

Day 2: Pumpkin Crunch Tart

Pumpkin Crunch Tart

Recipe Adapted from Bobby Flay

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Ingredients

For Cinnamon Crunch

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, cold

For Crust

  • 3 cups ginger snap crumbs (I used Trader Joe’s gingersnaps)
  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick, plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

For Pie Filling

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree (NOT the mix)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus more for the top
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Whipped cream, for serving

Directions

For Cinnamon Crunch: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor, and process a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until combined. Pat the mixture evenly into a 4-inch square on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Remove and let cool. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Set aside.

For Filling: Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, both sugars, and molasses together in a medium bowl. Mix in pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Whisk in the heavy cream, milk, and vanilla extract. Either strain the mixture through a coarse strainer into a bowl, or give it a good blending in your blender, about 7-5 seconds. Whisk in the butter. Chill overnight in the refrigerator to allow flavors and spices to properly meld.

For Crust: Grease an 8 x 11 1/2 rectangular  tart pan*. combine the ginger snap crumbs, butter, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix until combined. Press evenly onto the bottom and sides of tart pan. Brush with the beaten egg. Bake until light golden brown and firm, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

For Assembly: Place the tart pan on a baking sheet, pour the pumpkin mixture into the shell, (don’t overfill, it’s ok if you have some leftover) and sprinkle additional cinnamon over the top. Bake until the filling is set around edges but the center still jiggles slightly when shaken, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Cut tart into slices and top with cinnamon crunch and whipped cream. Refrigerate leftover slices.

(*This recipe can also be made in a 9 inch and 10 inch pie dish. The tart pan was just my preference. Also, using a tart pan will almost definitely guarantee you’ll have leftover filling.)

 

Stuffing Bread

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Goodness. Has it been a year already since we did this? Time flies.

If you’re a new follower and are wondering what ‘this’ is, then allow me to fill you in. ‘This’ is the day that we’ll be starting the annual 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking is My Sport: a series of 12 days of 12 recipes of Christmas themed goodies that I dump on you guys in rapid succession that are specifically designed to make you hungry for carbs/sugar/Christmas cheer. Because I find that is in one of my especially strong skill sets.

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There will (of course) be plenty of cookies and other sweets to come in the following days, but I also wanted to try and incorporate some other types of baked goods into the series as well. Yummy Christmas food comes in sweet AND savory packages. Case in point,  today’s recipe.

We’re coming right off the heels of Thanksgiving where a lot of people cook/eat abundant amounts of stuffing and/or dressing. Our family makes dressing (the stuff you cook all on its own in a separate baking dish, a very safe distance away from the raw, uncooked bird), and we like to eat it at both Thanksgiving AND Christmas. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without it.

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Whether you’re on Team Dressing or Team Stuffing, chances are you’re fond of at least a core set of flavors and ingredients that can be found in both (if they’re any go0d anyway). A lot of times, bread is crumbled and these ingredients and flavors are added TO it along with some egg and chicken broth to moisten it before it gets baked into a kind of casserole.

But what would happen if those flavors and ingredients were mixed together to MAKE a scratch made yeast bread?

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This. This is what would happen. And now that I’ve got your attention, I’ll elaborate. What you’re looking at is a whole wheat loaf of bread that I flavored with poultry seasoning, then rolled up with ingredients meant to remind you of the taste of stuffing and/or dressing: sage, celery, onion, browned sausage and cranberries.

I initially saw this bread on King Arthur Flour as a pull apart bread, similar to Monkey Bread where people can tear off chunks. However, in my rendition, I decided to go a little bit of a different route as I thought there could be some problems with the overall construction of the dough and keeping the filling from just collecting in pools between balls of dough–which could get particularly icky when it comes to baking sausage that will probably leak excess grease (even after you drain it)

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So, my idea of ensuring that I had a loaf that would still rise and bake without falling apart was to see if I could take a similar shaping method that was done for the Pane Bianco I did a while ago and apply it here. The dough is rolled out into a large rectangle, the filling is spread out, then the dough is tightly rolled up into a log. That log is split open, then turned inside out to reveal the layers created by the rolling–which, creates a very pretty presentation if I may say so myself. You’ll get huge kudos and props for a process that is actually fairly simple.

Oh, and I mentioned how delicious this stuff is, didn’t I? No? Oh, well yeah: it’s amazing. Using whole wheat flour as the base creates a nutty flavor of the dough that’s nicely complimented by the herbs from the sage, the savory meaty flavor of the sausage and the sweetness of the cranberries. They all balance one another so well. We ate this loaf both for Thanksgiving and warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave for breakfast in the days that followed and were VERY happy campers. I think that you and your wolfpack will be too should you choose to bake them a loaf.

Linking up this recipe to Fiesta Friday #148, cohosted this week by  Linda @ La Petite Paniere and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Stay tuned for more recipes to come in the 12 Days of Christmas; we’re just getting started!

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Stuffing Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour 

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Ingredients

For Dough

  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For Filling

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 3/4 cup cooked pork breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In the bowl of a standing mixer, sprinkle the instant yeast on top of the milk. Sprinkle sugar on top of yeast and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the onion powder, dried thyme, poultry seasoning, salt and flour. Set aside.

Using the dough hook attachment, add the flour mixture alternately with the butter in the standing mixer. Knead for about 8-10 minutes until you have a smooth dough that no longer sticks to sides of bowl.

Grease bowl with cooking spray or oil, place dough back inside, cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel and allow to rise until doubled in size about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, make filling: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onions, and cook until the vegetables are softened. Remove from the heat and add the sausage, chopped sage, poultry seasoning, and cranberries. Cool to lukewarm, then stir in the eggs. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble: Gently deflate the dough. Flatten and pat it into an about 22 x 8 1/2 rectangle.  Sprinkle sausage/cranberry filling over dough, leaving about 1 inch of a border clear the top.

Starting with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way, away from you. Pinch the edges to seal. Place the log seam-side down on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Using kitchen shears, start 1/2 inch from one end and cut the log lengthwise down the center about 1 inch deep, to within 1/2 inch of the other end. Keeping the cut side up, form an “S” shape. Tuck both ends under the center of the “S” to form a “figure 8;” pinch the ends together to seal.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes. While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Uncover the bread, and bake it for 30 to 35 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 to 25 minutes to prevent over-browning.

Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

Maple Curry Plantains

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‘Sup guys. If you celebrated any kind of festivities yesterday, then I hope that it was filled with good food and good times with your family and loved ones. It’s a little weird to still have it be relatively warm and snow-less here on the west side for this time of year, but it was still a pretty good day. I’m in a pretty decent mood from the stuff that came out of my own kitchen. I’m in an even better one when I think of all the leftovers that we’re gonna have for the next few days from it.

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So, moving on to the item of the day: plantains.

I’ve known what they were for a good long while, but back in the Mitten, we didn’t have very many of them in our grocery stores. Even when we did, it was only at certain times of year and they didn’t come very inexpensive by the pound.

On this side of the tracks, not only have I yet to go to a grocery store and NOT seen plantains, they’re generally pretty inexpensive here. I think it’s probably because I live in an area with a very high Latino/Hispanic population and plantains are pretty common in Latin cuisine.

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Like Latin, Caribbean cuisine (and Latin Caribbean as well when I think about it) is one that I don’t have nearly enough experience cooking, or eating for that matter. I do know that plantains are used a lot in them all. Plantains are similar to bananas, they’re just slightly larger, less sweet and more firm/starchy. Up until now, they kinda baffled me. I wasn’t sure of how they were supposed to be cooked or taste: were they supposed to be cooked to be sweet like bananas, or in a more savory application like squash?

Since I  wasn’t sure, I just decided to leave them alone for a while. But as it tends to happen with ingredients/recipes I avoid out of intimidation, it popped back up on my radar.
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Before I even came out, my sister told me about a Caribbean restaurant in the area that when I got here I just HAD to try. She raved about their jerk chicken, greens and in particular, their preparation of plantains. When my birthday came around in September, she bought me dinner at the joint and I finally got to see what all the fuss was about with plantains.

Yeah, I get it now. They’re delicious.

You are reminded of bananas when you eat them, just a much more starchy and less mushy/sweet one. I could tell that the plantains at the restaurant she took me too were probably fried in butter, but not seasoned with any particular spices so as to let their own flavor stand out. They were also tender on the inside and browned on the outside. After that dinner I was set upon figuring out how to make them myself.

Didn’t take me too long.

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Because I was going in knowing nothing about cooking plantains, I decided to gather inspiration from far greater minds than mine who I knew would know what was what when handling them. One of my Marcus Samelsson cookbooks featured a recipe with plantains where they are actually fried twice in oil. After the first fry, they get pressed down flat with a wooden spoon then dunked into a garlic water bath; this, I assume is to draw out excess starch that would prevent them from getting a good crust in the second fry.

And it IS in that second fry where the real magic happens. Here’s the best part you guys: I actually had two ripe plantains and one plantain that even after sitting on the counter in a paper bag for 2 days with the other ones, was still green on the outside and not-too-ripe. They ALL came out fantastic. Granted, the ripe plantains had more ‘meat’ to their insides, but the green plantain actually developed a golden brown crusty layer on the outside that contrasted with the starchy inside perfectly.

The plantains could stand on their own just like that, but when you add the quick maple syrup-curry powder glaze to them…OMGAWD. We agreed immediately that these would be going into the rotation, stat. I think you and yours will agree if you try this recipe, which I’ll be linking up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #147, co-hosted this week by  Julianna @ Foodie On Board and Hilda @ Along The Grapevine.

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Maple Curry Plantains

Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport, Recipe Technique Adapted from Marcus Samuelsson

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Ingredients

  • 2 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 2 cups of water
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Peanut oil for frying

Directions

Heat about 1 inch of the peanut oil in a skillet to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the water, garlic cloves and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a separate smaller bowl mix together the curry powder and maple syrup and set aside.

Take the plantains and fry them in batches in the peanut oil until golden brown, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. Using a spider or a metal spatula transfer the plantains to the baking sheet. Wait 1 to 2 minutes for them to cool, then stand the plantains up on edge; using the flat end of the spatula or a wooden spoon, smash the plantains to half their diameter.

Place the smashed plantains into the garlic water and let them soak for 1 minute.  Remove and gently blot dry with paper towels.

Make sure the oil has returned to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry the plantains again until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes per side depending on how crisp you prefer them to be. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Take the maple syrup-curry mixture and either drizzle or dab it onto the plantains with a pastry brush. Serve immediately.

Honey Spice Roasted Potatoes

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Wasting food.

I hate doing it. I can and will eat leftovers for days until the food is gone before I’ll toss it in the trash or garbage disposal out of ‘boredom’. And even when/if it does spoil and I HAVE to throw it out, I still cringe from irritation and guilt.

It could be because I love food. It could also be because I’m cheap/low in $ funds 98% of the time, and don’t want to see what my money paid for being wasted.

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The “inspiration” for this dish was really nothing more than the fact that we had a big bag of russet potatoes in the kitchen that we’d bought as apart of a discount, telling ourselves we’d make baked potatoes.

Naturally, that didn’t happen. They just sat there for a good long while and it finally got to the point where I was concerned that they were going to spoil and go to waste. You guys know how anal retentive I am when it comes to wasting food. I wasn’t throwing out a whole bag of still-usable potatoes. Nuh-uh. So, I decided to just go ahead and use them for something that would cook them all in one go–my taste buds had a craving for wedges, so that’s what I went with.

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My process for coming up with this went as follows: I washed and cut the potatoes, opened my spice cabinet and literally just started taking bottles out and shaking the contents together into a bowl if I thought it sounded like they’d taste good when combined. The ‘wild card’ in the bunch was the turmeric. Turmeric’s got a pungent, gingery, almost spicy orange aftertaste to it. It’s used a lot in curry dishes in Asian and Indian dishes and is actually a pretty healthy spice for your as well.

Its bright yellow and can also stain your counter tops and hands yellow for a few days if you’re not careful, but moving on.

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After cutting them up, I combined the turmeric with some oil and other spices into a paste, then tossed that together with the potatoes. After cranking up the oven I spread them out on a pair of sheet pans and roasted them until they were tender on the inside and the oil on the pans made them crispy on the outside edges.

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The cumin gives the potatoes a smoky earthy flavor while the turmeric and honey provides a spicy sweetness that marries the flavors together very nicely. If Russet potatoes aren’t really your thing, then that’s fine: I can see this working VERY well with Yukon Gold or sweet potatoes too. If wedges aren’t your thing then you can also just cut them into large or smaller chunks and adjust your roasting time to be longer or shorter as needed.

There’s a certain occasion coming up on Thursday where a lot of Americans get together and do a lot of eating. If you still need an easy and delicious side dish for that occasion that will still feed a lot of people, then I’d offer up this one for consideration.

Linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #146 co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Honey Spice Roasted Potatoes

Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport

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Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. russet/baking potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed
  • About 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil, plus extra if necessary
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half into thirds/wedges, making sure they are more or less the same size and width to make sure they cook evenly.

Place the potatoes in a  plastic re-sealable gallon size bag.

In a small bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients together and mix together with a fork or whisk. It should resemble a loose kind of paste but still be fluid enough to coat the potatoes. If it’s still to thick, drizzle in additional oil into the dressing by tablespoons until it’s liquid-y enough.

Pour the dressing over the potatoes, seal the bag and toss around for two to three turns until the dressing has evenly coated the potatoes.

Spray two half sheet pans well with non-stick cooking spray. Divide the potatoes between the pans and spread out in one even layer.

Roast for 35-40 minutes, mixing the potatoes and switching the pans around half-way through until they are fork-tender in the middle and crisp at the edges.

Guinness Shredded Beef Sandwiches

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Well. Hi.

We don’t have to talk too much about what happened this week. It happened. To say I’m upset would be the understatement of the century. This is a terrible, embarrassing, and frankly shameful turn of events for my country. I won’t personally apologize for it (I voted for the right person for the job), but it still shouldn’t have happened. It should not be. I am both dismayed and terrified for the future of America and the many groups of people who had so much at stake in this election. The future as far as I can see, looks very bleak. Yet here we are.

(Don’t debate me in the comments section. Don’t tell me not to panic and that everything is somehow going to be ok. I’m an African American woman and what happened this week drastically & negatively affects my livelihood and the livelihood of millions of other Americans in my country. I’m not going to be PC about that. If you’re offended or take issue with any of the above, then you can feel free to unfollow this blog with all quickness. I legitimately could not care less.)

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However, seeing as we’re all just here for the food anyway let’s focus on that far more pleasant subject instead.  After this week I’m in desperate need of a pick-up. A HUGE pick up.

Cooking is not just my sport, it’s one of my chief ways of practicing self-care; a way I can inject some peace & calm into my life when I’m stressed out. When I know that I’m cooking good food, it puts me in a good mood. Eating that good food then puts me in a great one.

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Today’s recipe is one of those dishes that instantly put me into a better mood, just by existing. The best part about it is, it’s actually a pretty low maintenance & low effort meal, especially if you use a slow cooker.

You guys know that I’m usually a poultry girl. Chicken breast is my mainstay and the protein nine times out of ten, I’m gonna want. However, sometimes I get a craving and suddenly nothing but red meat will do it for me.

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When I get a hankering for red meat, I don’t want a fancy steak. I’ve gotta have a sandwich. Either a big juicy burger, or…one of these. A ginormous shredded/pulled beef sandwich.

Guys, I just….looking at pictures of this is making me miss eating this thing already. It’s so good. What’s more, I’m going to go ahead and say that this another one of those recipes that is EXTREMELY difficult to mess up, even if cooking isn’t really your ‘thing’.

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I’m really not fond of beer as a beverage. I think it tastes like piss would if I actually knew what piss tastes like-which I don’t, but y’know…moving on. However, taste-wise I’ve found that beer can it can do some pretty amazing things to a piece of meat and for those purposes, I use it often in my cooking. When combined with the other simple ingredients in the marinade, this makes for a savory, garlicky and juuuuust slightly tangy flavor that gets infused in the meat overnight, then is cooked in the slow cooker (or the oven if you don’t have or want to use one of those).

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Pricking the meat all over before searing/cooking will make it more tender, so don’t skip that step. Going the low and slow route will make sure it isn’t tough and dry, so try not to rush this process by going “High” mode on the slow cooker or a higher temperature in the oven. Be patient. You’ll be rewarded for it in the end.

I made this recipe alongside the Fool-Proof Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions that I posted last week and built myself the sandwich of my dreams. When I tell you that it put a smile on my face…whew. I was a happy camper for dinner that night and you can bet your behind that every scrap of this delectable meat that you see here is long gone.

Do yourself a solid and make some of this. You’ll feel better. Promise.

I’m linking this post to Fiesta Friday #145.

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Guinness Shredded Beef Sandwiches

Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Guinness or other dark stout beer
  • 2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup light molasses
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Beefy or regular onion soup envelope (Like Lipton’s)
  • About 4-5 lbs of either chuck roast, bottom round, rump roast, or London broil. You want a good braising cut; nothing too lean.
  • 1 medium sweet onion, roughly cut into thick slices or chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into large chunks or slices
  • Salt and Black pepper
  • About 1 tablespoon onion powder

 

Directions

Using a fork, prick the meat all over on both sides evenly.

In a medium bowl , whisk together the stout beer, soy sauce, , molasses, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, and onion soup. Set aside about 1 1/2 cups of the marinade for later use (refrigerate it).

Place the beef in a spill-proof gallon size plastic bag. Pour the remaining marinade over the beef and seal the bag. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Set a Dutch oven over high heat with a thin coating of vegetable oil in the bottom.  Spray the bottom of a slow cooker with cooking spray or place a slow cooker liner on the inside of it.

Remove the beef from the marinade then rub the salt, black pepper and onion powder over it. Then, place in the Dutch oven. Sear on both sides until it has a good browning , about 3-5 minutes per side.*

Place the roast in the slow cooker with the onion and green pepper sprinkled on both the top and bottom. Pour in enough of the reserved 1 1/2 cups marinade to come up halfway on the beef. Discard the rest.

Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours.

Using a fork gently pull at the meat. It should fall apart and shred easily. Assemble onto sandwiches with Dijon mustard and pickles and other preferred toppings/condiments.

*If you do not have a slow cooker, or want to cut down on the cooking time, this recipe can also be done by roasting in the oven. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. After the beef has finished searing, add the onion and bell pepper to the Dutch oven, as well as the reserved marinade. You can also use regular beef broth; (enough to make sure it won’t dry out or burn). Cover and roast for about 5-6 hours.

Fool-Proof, Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

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I can eat caramelized onions on and in just about anything. Sandwiches. Salad. Stew. Pizza. On toasted bread. A spoon (Yes. All by themselves and you will not judge me). They’re just that good. They’re such a simple ingredient that can really bump up a dish in a way that other condiments just can’t.

The thing about making caramelized onions is that the process can be both long and tricky. You have to have the time and patience to let the onions cook VERRRRRY low and slow over the stove top in the skillet. You also have to know when and how not to let them cook TOO much so that they scorch and burn.

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I won’t lie, they can be a labor of love that fortunately turns out to be well worth it. But to be sure…it can be a labor and for those that are uncomfortable in the kitchen, making caramelized onions just may not seem worth all the effort.

Until now, that is.

All of us caramelized onion lovers–both those who love to cook and those who don’t–listen up. I’m sharing a recipe today that is about to make all of our lives more easier.

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I decided to see if I could bypass all that extra-ness with hovering over a skillet of onions waiting on them to caramelize,and see if the slow cooker could do the job just as well. I was totally right. It totally could. And now I’m just left kinda wondering how and why I haven’t done this a loooong time ago.

Alright so, look. You can’t mess this recipe up, guys. Seriously. I don’t care how much of a bad/challenged/struggling cook you think you are, look me in my eyes: (ok, so you can’t do that actually , but pay attention closely.)

YOU.CAN’T.MESS.THIS.RECIPE.UP.

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This is the like The Elves and the Shoemaker fairy tale that we’ve all been waiting for. Literally, all you have to do is leave your ingredients out overnight in the slow cooker (the elves in this case), let it do its magic, then wake up in the morning and behold the wonder that it’s left for you to partake in. You sprinkle in some sugar, wait a little bit more and BAM. You’re done.

That’s….it. I’m not kidding. I almost couldn’t believe it myself. But the onions were there, finished. And soooo delicious.

A few notes: my #1 onion onion of choice will always be the sweet Vidalia. However, I do enjoy red onions too and when caramelized they take on their own sharp sweetness that goes great with pizza and sandwiches. White onions…meh. I’m not a fan of their peppery bite, but if that’s what floats your boat, have at it Charlie. I’ve also included an option in the recipe for those that prefer a more vinegary acidic flavor to their onions rather than sweetness. Either way, you’re going to be happy with these results. I guarantee it.

Happy Fiesta Friday #144, co-hosted this week by Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen.

Foolproof Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport

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Ingredients

  • 4-5 large sweet yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • About 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons of light brown sugar OR white wine, or balsamic vinegar (This really just depends on whether you want your onions sweet or acidic. It’s up to you.)

 

Directions

Spray the bottom of a 4-5 quart slow cooker with cooking spray.

Spread the onions into the slow cooker. Drizzle in the vegetable oil in between them as you layer them.

Sprinkle with an even layer of salt and pepper.

Stir together to make sure they’re all evenly coated.

Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours. Towards the 8 or 10th hour, remove the lid and stir the onions. Sprinkle the brown sugar (or wine, or vinegar) evenly over them and re-cover, leaving the lid slightly cracked. Let cook for 1-2 more hours, until they’ve reached the dark color/caramelization you prefer.

Serve on sandwiches, salads, soups, etc.

Rollos de los Muerto (Rolls of the Dead)

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I first heard of & learned about Dia de los Muertos when I was in the eighth grade. There was an assembly where a traveling performance group put on a show for us that was supposed to be about a Mexican holiday in October that when translated into English, was called The Day of the Dead.

Basically, it’s a holiday that honors the passing of loved ones. The indigenous peoples who it originates from believe that on October 31st, the gates of Heaven are opened at midnight and the spirits of deceased children will be able to briefly reunite with their families for 24 hours. The spirits of deceased adults come next on November 2nd. Elaborate altars are made to both remember and honor the deceased loved ones with pictures, delicious food, presents and candles.

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I was intrigued by it then and I still am now. I love the idea of a holiday centered around honoring loved ones who have passed away. I love the elaborate, colorful sugar skulls that get decorated and sold. I love the beautiful face makeup designs; works of art in and of themselves , really.

And yes. Of course: I love the food aspect of it too.

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Probably the most well known food from Dia de los Muerto is the Pan De Muerto, translated into English as the bread of the dead. They’re sweet egg breads typically molded into large loaves with shapes of skulls and bones on top.

I made a loaf of Pan De Murerto for the first time two years ago, and posted it on the blog. This year I found myself thinking about it again and how I wanted to give it another go,  this time maybe giving it a different spin.

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So this year, instead of making one big loaf of pan de muerto, I decided to go ahead and make a batch of rollos de los muerto: rolls of the dead. This is a dough that in my research I’ve seen is often flavored with anise. I included a full tablespoon of anise seeds in mine to really make sure the flavor came through.  Although the original recipe for this calls of orange blossom water, I didn’t have any on hand and to be perfectly honest also didn’t feel like buying an entire bottle of the stuff only to end up using one teaspoon’s worth for just one recipe(because that stuff really packs a punch even in small doses). I found that the cheaper and much more readily available option to most people is just going with the option of using the zest from an entire orange. It isn’t the exact same floral flavor as the orange blossom water, but it’s still nonetheless just as yummy.

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Lastly, most pan de muerto just calls for white sugar to be sprinkled on top of the dough to finish. With this batch of rolls, I decided to add on an orange flavored syrup that gets brushed on them at the very end of their baking, THEN sprinkled with white sugar on top once they’re taken out of the oven. The flavor combination of the anise and orange is one that works EXTREMELY well. The dough has that subtle licorice flavor that’s then given a fresh citrusy aftertaste from both the orange zest and the orange syrup. The white sugar gives it a pleasant crunch on the outside to compliment the soft chewiness of the dough inside.

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With shaping, I decided to keep things simple. I rolled out individual balls of dough, then pinched off smaller balls that I split in half to form the crosses. In retrospect I was a bit concerned that they resembled hot cross buns a bit too much. Then I remembered that Hot Cross Buns are made for another holiday that celebrates a resurrection of the dead of sorts. In thinking of it that way, the resemblance seemed kinda ironic.

These really are delicious. The sugar on the top does give a sweetness to them, but they’re not overly sweet. I think they’d still work very well to eat alongside a salad for lunch or even a heavier main course for dinner.

Happy Dio de los Muertos/Halloween, and Fiesta Friday #143, cohosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Maggie @ Spoon in a Saucepan!!!

Rollos de los Muerto (Rolls of the Dead)

Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit

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Ingredients

  • 1 ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
  • 5⅓ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon anise seeds
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • Zest from one large orange
  • ¾ cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon, divided
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus 6 tablespoons melted, divided
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray

For Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • Granulated or coarse ground sugar

Directions

Mix yeast, 1/3 cup  of flour, 1/4 cup warm water in the bottom of a standing mixer bowl with a wooden spoon or spatula. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of white sugar on top. Let it sit uncovered for about 35 minutes, until the mixture is frothy and begins to form bubbles on top.

Whisk eggs, anise seeds, kosher salt, orange zest and 3/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl until the mixture starts to look foamy and sugar is dissolved. Then, add this egg mixture to the yeast starter along with the remaining 5 cups of flour. (Note: don’t add the flour all at once, about 1 cup at a time is what you want to aim for).  Using the dough hook attachment, alternate adding the flour with adding the softened butter, beginning and ending with flour until a soft dough forms, about 5 minutes.

Increase speed to medium and and continue to mix until sugar is dissolved and the dough is elastic, 8-10 minutes.

Take the dough out of the ball and lightly grease the bowl with 2 tablespoons melted butter or canola oil. Transfer dough back to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Let rise in warm, draft free place until doubled in size, 2 hours.

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and coat the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.

Punch down onto a well floured work surface. Pinch off a piece of dough slightly smaller than a tennis ball and shape into a round. Pinch off a second piece that is about the size of a ping pong ball, the divide this piece in half. Roll each half into a long rope that will extend over the sides of the tennis-ball dough round. Arrange each rope in a criss-cross  shape over the dough and tuck the ends underneath the ball to keep from shrinking. Place the finished round on the parchment paper.

Repeat the previous step with the remaining dough. Brush the rolls with the 6 tablespoons melted butter, then cover them with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Let rise for 45-minutes to an hour. (Note: they may not double in size during the proofing time, that’s okay. Mine doubled in size while baking.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While dough is proofing, make the glaze: Combine the sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and continue stirring and cooking frequently until it has reduced to a syrup, about 5 minutes. If it bubbles up, just take it off the heat for a few seconds then put it back on. Remove from heat.

Bake the rolls for 20 minutes, then remove from oven. Brush generously with orange syrup then return to the oven for about 5 minutes more. Remove from oven (inner temperature should be 190 Fahrenheit degrees for fully baked rolls), then sprinkle immediately with white sugar so that it sticks. Allow to cool before serving.