Beef Carbonnade

I’m going to piggyback off my last week’s post where I gave some free advice that I’ve picked up along the way of my own cooking journey. I’ve mentioned before on here that I have a not-so-minor addiction to buying/collecting cookware, bakeware and kitchen appliances. The majority of my Amazon wishlist is composed of the above. The shopping spree of my dreams would legit be at Williams Sonoma, where I could literally buy any and everything that I want. The more cooking/baking techniques and different dishes that I learn, the more gadgets and appliances I want in order to make them or take certain dishes to a certain level.

Just as there’s a lot of cooking advice to be taken in, there are just as many pieces of cookware, bakeware, gadgets or appliances out there. It’s perfectly fine to get a collection going once you’ve hit your stride and feel pretty confident in your abilities. However if you’re just starting out and and are just looking to *begin* stocking your cabinets with pots/pans, my advice to you would be similar to the advice I gave last week.

Less is more– at least in the beginning.

If you go to just about any Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s or even Target and Walmart you’re going to be able to find the huge sets of cookware that usually come with a few pots, skillets and spatualas. Those are fine–I’d even say that they’re a worthwhile investment provided it’s from a good company/brand.

The only thing is, the majority of cookware sets aren’t going to have what I personally consider a must-have in the kitchen collection of amateur and expert cooks alike. Any guesses on what it is?

Never mind, I’ll just tell you: it’s a Dutch oven.

One of the best decisions I ever made on my cooking journey was to invest in a good Dutch oven. It was a real game changer. Prior to that I had been using a stock pot. Trust me, there’s a big difference and in my opinion, no comparison between the two. There’s just no beating how many different uses you can get out of a Dutch oven.

You’re going to get more latitude from a Dutch oven which gives more surface area for a more even cook. I learned how to fry chicken while using a Dutch oven (they’re taller and also hold/distribute heat even better than cast iron).Most are pretty big–enough too make big pots of stew, soup and chili. They’re big and also wide enough to fit whole roasts and the vegetables. The Cephalon ones are my favorite; it’s a good non-stick surface that doesn’t wear out and the structure of the pot itself is strong and durable.

A good Dutch oven isn’t the cheapest thing you could buy for your kitchen, but I would still say it’s probably the best thing you could buy whether you’re starting out or not. It’s a *really* good investment. Anything you can make in those chintzy skillets or pots you got in a set, you can (and likely should) be making in a Dutch oven instead. When I was thinking about what I wanted to say for this post, all I could think about was how perfect it turned out BECAUSE of my Dutch oven.

So listen, guys. The advice for the week is: get a Dutch oven.

This recipe is pretty basic, as stick to your ribs food should be. Meat + onions + gravy = Boom. I think the mace and the smoked paprika in the spice rub give the meat a special ‘something’ that really works.  Beef & chicken broth, beer, and apple cider form the base of the gravy. There’s also juuuuust a tad bit of apple cider vinegar that gets added to it–I was nervous about the acidity but it’s actually just right.

Dutch ovens were *made* for meals like this. You want a Dutch oven so that you too can make rich, hearty braises with savory meat that simmers away in rich, hearty broth until it’s fork tender, filling your kitchen with the most glorious of smells. Now theoretically, could you make this in a stockpot if you didn’t have a Dutch oven yet? Eh…yeah. I guess. But the Dutch oven will give you the space and heat distribution that will give you the best results. SO GET ONE.

Sharing this post at Fiesta Friday #207, co-hosted this week by  Lily @ Little Sweet Baker and Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com.

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Beef Carbonnade

Recipe Adapted from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

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Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 pounds top blade steaks, chuck roast, or tri tip steak, trimmed of gristle and fat cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 medium sweet yellow onions, halved and cut 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz bottle) dark beer or stout
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • A few dashes of soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Seasoned salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

 

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a small bowl, combine the seasoned salt and pepper, onion powder, mace, smoked paprika, dried thyme, and brown sugar with a fork.

Place the meat into a large bowl and sprinkle about half of the spice mix over it. Stir, then sprinkle the rest on top and stir until evenly coated.

Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil (or butter, or solidified bacon fat) in the bottom of a Dutch oven over high heat. Sear the meat on all sides until browned. (You may have to do this in 2 batches in order to not crowd the pot) Remove the meat to a medium bowl and keep covered with aluminum foil.

Deglaze the pan with the apple cider, allow to simmer until the liquid is mostly dissolved, then add the onions to the pot,  and lower the heat down to medium. Allow the onions to cook until translucent and limpened, around 5-7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic, stir  and allow to cook for about 5-7 more minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the onions, allow to cook until flour is slightly browned, about 2 more minutes.

Add the broths, beer, cider vinegar, bay leaves, soy sauce. Stir to scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat back to medium. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Place the beef back into the pot.

Cover the pot with a lid, or tightly with aluminum foil and place on the bottom rack of the oven. Cook until a fork inserted in the beef meets little resistance; it should be close to pull apart tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

To make gravy: In a small bowl, combine a few tablespoons of flour with about 1/2 cup cool water. Use a whisk to stir until the flour dissolves. Strain several cups of the cooked beef broth into a saucepan, then pour in the flour water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, stirring a few times. Allow to simmer until thickened into a gravy, about 15-20 minutes.

Improv Chicken and Biscuits

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I think I should start this post off by being completely honest about something:

This was supposed to be a different dish.

Not a HUGELY different one, but a different one all the same.

It just didn’t happen that way. Because…stupid stuff.

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I originally set out to use my new springform pan to bake a deep dish chicken pot pie that I’ve had my cooking eye on for a while. I had a spare pie crust in my freezer that’s been there since I made my Deep Dish Apple pie a few months back. I thought that since it’d been in the freezer all this time, and since I could still see the chunks of butter in the dough that it would be okay to just thaw in the fridge and use, thus sparing me the necessity of making another pie crust from scratch.

I thought.

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So what had happened was, I rolled out the thawed pie crust and lined it in my springform pan. I thought it felt and looked fine. There waaaaaas a tiny little problem though: I didn’t have parchment paper and/or pie weights or beans to place on top of the crust while it pre-baked in the oven. All I had was aluminum foil.

So I knocked on wood,placed a layer of foil on top of crust and put it in the oven and waited for something to happen.

And turns out, something DID happen…it just wasn’t a very good something.

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About ten minutes into the bake, (just to be on the safe side) I looked in the oven and lifted the foil.

Yeah so….the crust was collapsing in the pan in a gelatinous, greasy pile. It was a hot mess.

No WAY was this gonna work.

To be perfectly honest, I have NO idea what I did wrong, guys.

Maybe I really did need the parchment paper and pie weights. Like, maybe they were the “heart and soul” of the recipe. (Doubt it, but hey, could be.)

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It’s very possible and likely that the fats in the butter of the frozen pie crust over the long period of time had in the freezer, I don’t know….evaporated? Maybe there’s an expiration date on frozen pie crust. I didn’t think so, but maybe there is. If one of you out there happens to be a food scientist, maybe you can explain it to me.

But then, I’m also half convinced that the oven in our new apartment hasn’t been properly calibrated. Despite being an electric range like our last one was,  it takes longer to bake things in this oven than the allotted time for recipes–sometimes much longer. I’m planning on going out and buying an oven thermometer this weekend and testing the temps to confirm my suspicions. I’m hoping I’m wrong about that though.

Regardless, my plans for a deep dish chicken pot pie were screwed.

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The problem was, I couldn’t just walk away. I’d already started making the filling. I’d involved myself. I was committed to this now.

After promptly shoving the misshapen blob of deceased, failed pie crust into the trash can, I took a step back and thought: How was I going to salvage this dish to my satisfaction? Technically, I could’ve just made the filling and served it all on its own. I just didn’t want to do that.

I had started cooking with the expectation that we were going to have chicken pot pie for dinner, not just chicken pot pie filling. I wanted the carbohydrate-stick to your-ribs-chicken pot pie-experience. You can’t get that with filling all on its own: that’s just called a chicken stew.

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As a general habit, I try to always have a box or two of frozen butter in my freezer at all times. That way, I always have butter that’s cold enough to make two things whenever I want: pie crust, and biscuits. After the embarrassing defeat of my other failed pie crust, I wasn’t up for making another one of those just then. Biscuits were an easier and quicker alternative (especially considering I only had a few more hours left until it would too dark outside for me to take pictures.)

I still had quite a bit of fresh rosemary left from making the filling that was meant to go in my pie. So I  called an audible and decided that I was going to make rosemary scented buttermilk biscuits to serve with the chicken filling.

Fortunately, the biscuits came together VERY quickly and easily. I was in a frustrated, frenzied hurry so I actually handled and kneaded at the dough much more than I’m usually comfortable with when I make biscuits, and they STILL came out flaky and tender on the inside. With some chicken filling spooned on top of these babies, you really are in for what I like to think of as the quintessential winter comfort food that makes you want to take a nap as soon as it’s gone. So despite my snafu with the failed pie crust, I still feel pretty good about how I rocked this out. It turned out well.

Y’know, thanks to improvisation and stuff. Thus the name of the recipe.

(I’ll be taking this dish to Fiesta Friday #104, co-hosted this week by Mila @ milkandbun and Hilda @ Along The Grapevine.)

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Improv Chicken and Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from Food 52 & Serious Eats

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Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 16 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • cups chicken stock
  • bay leaf
  • sprigs rosemary
  • sprigs thyme
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tbsp-1 tbsp. honey mustard (depending on taste preference)
  • cups chopped, cooked chicken (about 1 large rotisserie chicken)

For the Biscuits

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large eggs, 1 whole, 1 beaten
  • 2 1/4 cups (13 ounces) all-purpose or low-protein biscuit flour, such as White Lily or Adluh
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) frozen unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

For the Chicken:

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat until the onions are translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the bag of frozen veggies, cook for further 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute more. Remove the vegetables from the pot.

Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Cook until the mixture is just starting to turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the vegetables back to the pot, along with the bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme. Season with salt, black pepper, onion powder and the honey mustard. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the cream, and chicken and return to a simmer. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the mixture from the heat.

For the Biscuits:

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, cream, and whole egg.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and chopped rosemary. Using the large grates on a box grater, grate the butter directly into the flour mixture and toss gently with a spatula until fully coated. Working quickly and using your fingers, rub butter into flour until butter forms marble-sized pieces. Alternatively, add flour mixture and butter to food processor and pulse 2 to 3 times to form marble-sized pieces; transfer to a large bowl.

Add buttermilk mixture and gently mix with a fork until just combined; the dough should look somewhat dry and shaggy. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Form dough into a rectangle, lightly pressing and folding to bring it together; avoid squeezing or kneading the dough.

Fold dough into thirds like a letter. Using rolling pin, roll out dough and repeat folding once more. Roll out dough to about 1/2-inch thickness. Wrap in plastic and transfer to refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Return dough to work surface, and, using a 3-inch round cookie-cutter and pressing down without a twisting motion, cut out biscuits as closely together as possible. Gather together scraps, pat down, and cut out more biscuits; discard any remaining scraps. Brush the top of each biscuit with egg-wash.

Bake the biscuits in a 400°F oven until risen and golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with the smothered chicken.

Pot Roast-Style Meatballs

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Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving Everyone!

Did you all have a great holiday with their families? Cook a lot? Eat too much? Watch lots of TV?

Was anyone brave enough to venture out this morning for Black Friday- I hope not. Honestly I just don’t think it’s worth the effort anymore. The Internet and online shopping has (I think) done a good job of making it so that there doesn’t necessarily have to be such a rush or panic for good deals. Granted, there are some things that you have to go and stand in line to get, but c’mon, honestly: are they REALLY worth it?

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Alright, alright. I confess: I have participated in Black Friday a handful of times before. But it was mostly during the 90’s, when online shopping was just getting started and stores were only making their deals available in-house. It does give you a weird kind of adrenaline rush, but not a particularly enjoyable one. Me, I’m a worrier: so naturally, the build up to Black Friday for someone like me would be the fear that I’m getting up early in the morning, risking my safety and raising my stress level for something I’m not even 100% guaranteed to get. What if I can’t run fast enough when they open the doors? What if I’m next to some psycho crazy woman who elbows me in the face as we’re reaching for the same thing? What if someone literally tries to take it out of my cart or hands even if I do get it?

Not that any of that has actually happened to me before (in fact, on the few occasions I did go out for Black Friday, I got what I wanted), but I say all of that just to emphasize that my personality is just not suited for all that craziness. I don’t like conflict, chaos or mean people…and that’s basically what Black Friday is ALL about. So I just stay out of it now.

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So, this is Pot Roast weather. You have to make pot roast during the winter. It’s pure comfort food that sticks to your ribs and just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Problem  is, depending on the size of the meat, it can be a little time consuming. I encountered this problem a little while ago when I wanted some pot roast, but #1, didn’t have enough time to make it, and #2, didn’t really want to pay full price on a piece of good beef that wasn’t on sale at the grocery store. What was on sale though, was the ground turkey, which gave me the idea of trying to replicate the flavors typically found in pot roast, in a meatball. It worked out very well with my Pizza Meatballs, so I didn’t see why it would be so bad to try it out here.

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This may not be true pot roast, but I am still really happy with how it turned out. The flavors still REALLY do come out in the meatballs, and because they’re ground turkey, you can feel a little bit better about having them versus red meat (if you care about watching your red meat intake anyway). If you read the recipe, you will see that I did cut some corners and used one of those Liptons packets to make my gravy. If you’re a purist who believes in only flour-roux based gravy, then that’s fine. Make it that way. I was just in a hurry and needed some gravy for my pot roast meatballs, and this does the job in a pinch. All in all, this is dish turned out really good. It’s not pot roast, but it definitely still has that comforting, stick to your ribs quality that’s really good for this time of year.

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I was very glad that Angie@TheNoviceGardener asked me back to co-host this weeks Fiesta Friday #44 with my good friend Prudy@ButterBasilandBreadcrumbs. It’s a real treat, and I hope all of you can join us, as we always have a lot of fun. If you’re interested in swinging by to contribute, or even just to see what the rest of us are bringing to the party this week, then just click the icon link below. Hope to see you there!

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Pot Roast-Style Meatballs

Recipe by Jess

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Ingredients

For Meatballs

  • 3 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 lb. Turkey sausage
  • 1 packet (.87 oz) of onion (or brown) gravy mix (Like Liptons)
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
  • A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs (and 1/2 cup more, if needed)
  • 1 egg, beaten

For Gravy

  • 1 packet of Brown gravy mix (Like Liptons)
  • 1-2 tbsp. flour

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place a wire rack over a half sheet pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside

2. Combine all ingredients for meatballs together in a large bowl. If mixture feels too wet to shape, then add remaining half cup of breadcrumbs.

3. Shape meat into golf-ball sized meatballs and place onto wire rack. Bake in oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until meatballs reach an inner temperature of 165° F.

4. Follow package instructions for gravy, adding additional flour to thicken, if desired. Drizzle on top of the meatballs and serve with white rice or egg noodles.

Champurrado-Mexican Hot Chocolate

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I absolutely love the movie “Chocolat” starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.

I’ll be honest, when I first watched it years ago, it was for one reason and one reason only: so I could moon over the physical perfection that is the The Johnny. (That’s what we call him in my house.) However, once we actually finished it, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie itself. It had some of my favorite actors in it (Alfred Molina, Judi Dench, Juliette Binoche), and the plot itself was very creative; a woman and her daughter travel from country to country opening chocolate shops and selling sweets with healing/magical powers to fix the lives of the people that buy them. It’s one of those cute, heartwarming, happy ending films to watch on sad rainy days, or on quiet Friday nights on your lonesome when you have nothing to do.

Not that I’m speaking from my own experience or anything.

I still watch Chocolat on a pretty regular basis, but nowadays, I find my attention caught by more than just the good plot and The Johnny’s smoldering gaze ( which God knows is enough of an incentive all on its own).

I also love watching it for the food. But you guys knew that about me by now, I’m sure.

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Kudos have got to go the director of photography of this movie for filling it with so many gratuitous shots of rich, decadent chocolate. Word of warning: don’t sit down and watch this if you’re hungry and without any access to food. By the time it’s over you WILL be hangry (yes hangry: hungry AND angry. A lethal combination for me).

Juliette Binoche’s character in the movie descends from the Ancient Aztecs, who believed that the cacao bean held magical powers. As such, they would grind it up  and melt it down into a thick, rich drink that became hot chocolate. Aztec hot chocolate is shown throughout the movie to have a very strong effect on everyone who comes to the chocolate shop to try it. They take one sip and this mysterious music starts playing in the background- as if all their dreams were coming true from just drinking this stuff. Overly dramatic? Oh yeah. Justified? I wasn’t sure…until now.

Don’t quote me on it, but I think that today’s Aztec Hot Chocolate has more or less trickled down into what we now know as Champurrado, or Mexican Hot Chocolate. I’d always wanted to try it, and recently all the stars came into alignment in my pantry (i.e., I finally had all the ingredients to make me quit procrastinating).

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Before I get into how Champurrado tastes, let me be clear about one thing: this is NOT what you would typically think of as ‘Americanized’ hot cocoa. For one, the masa harina makes this drink thick, almost to the point of a gravy consistency. Second, the masa gives it a slight corn-y aftertaste and although that may not sound appetizing, for some reason it just really works. Please, for the love of God, don’t try to use any substitutes for the Mexican chocolate. This recipe just doesn’t count at all if you do. You can’t beat that dark, rich flavor that the Mexican chocolate disks give to it. The one thing I would give you a free pass on would be the piloncillo because for a while, I didn’t even know what that stuff was.My mom ‘just happened’ to bring some home one day and since I didn’t know what the heck else to use it for, I decided to use it for my Champurrado. It’s a funny looking cone of solid sugar that you break down and crumble- I softened mine in the microwave for a few second increments.But brown sugar will also work fine.

Once again, this is not American cocoa. Having said that, I have to let you all know that this Champurrado is the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. It’s rich, smooth and creamy; slightly bitter from the chocolate, immediately sweet from the sugar, and the masa harina finally providing a delicate balance between the two in the aftertaste. I’m never going back to my old, misguided Swiss Miss ways, you guys. I’ve seen the light now.

If that doesn’t sell you on this drink, then let this do it’s job:

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Credit to giphy.com

The Johnny.

Drinking Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Those eyes. Sigh.

….Excuse me. I need a minute to myself now.

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Champurrado-Mexican Hot Chocolate

Recipe Courtesy of GOYA®.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Instant Corn Masa
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) Brown Sugar Cane (Piloncillo), chopped, or 8 oz. brown sugar
  • 2 disks (3 oz. each) Mexican chocolate, like Abuelita, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions

1. Add corn masa to large, heavy sauce pot. Using whisk, slowly add 4 cups water, whisking constantly until smooth and combined. Place saucepot over medium-high heat; bring corn masa mixture to a boil.

2. Add milk, sugar cane, chocolate and cinnamon to pot. Bring milk mixture to boil, whisking constantly, until chocolate is melted and sugar cane is dissolved, 5-7 minutes more.

3. Remove pot from heat. Divide champurrado evenly among serving mugs.

Apple Cherry Squares

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The view outside my window right now is not a very welcome sight.

It’s snowing. Again. A lot.

I know. I live in Michigan. It’s only the beginning of February. Winter here typically runs to the middle or even end of March. A sizable chunk of the of the United States is getting sucked into a polar vortex of snow storms and bitter cold temperatures. My case isn’t particularly special. I should be used to it by now. I get it.

But I don’t care. I’m not only ready for winter to go away, I’m ready for it go away then die a quick, painless death that leaves no traces or evidence behind. Maybe that’s being a little over dramatic, but it’s true.

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Complaining and getting bummed about the weather doesn’t do anybody any good, so I’ll just shift gears to a more pleasant subject. In case you guys didn’t know, Buzzfeed is one of the most effective tools of distraction/procrastination on the internet. It’s even right up there with Pinterest I think (which is really saying something). There’s just the right combination of serious topics blended with just the right amount of pure silliness that’s enough to keep you occupied at all the times when you’re feeling bored or in need of something to pass the time.

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Case in point in this particular instance would be a fun kind of personality quiz that I took today: “Which ’90’s Nickelodeon show Are You?” I don’t know how many 90’s kids are out there reading Cooking Is My Sport, but if you are a 90’s kid (or even had kids that grew up during the 90’s watching Nickelodeon shows), then this quiz would probably be just as fun for you to take as it was for me. I know everyone has their own version of nostalgia for their childhood, but I really do think that Nickelodeon was its very best during the 1990’s, as well as the first 2-3 years of the 2000’s. I won’t get into a rant about it; instead I’ll just share my results, post the link to the quiz and encourage all you guys to take it, then post your results in the comments section below so I can see what you got- sound good? Awesome.

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Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the food. Well, these are a little different than what I expected when I first decided to try out the this recipe, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t turn out nicely. They certainly did. I’m  HUGE fan of Kashi cereal, and I’ve been wanting to cook with it for a long time so I went to search on the website for some inspiration. For some reason the name of the recipe suggested to me that these would be similar to granola bars, but they’re not at all. The texture is VERY tender and soft, like a coffee cake that literally melts in your mouth. But, they’re actually not like coffee cake at all because so far as baked goods go, these squares are pretty healthy. So, if that’s your thing, then feel free to go ham on these suckers. Another thing: they practically scream for you to have an accompaniment of coffee, hot apple cider, or cocoa to go with them. So make sure there’s some close by.

Don’t forget to take the quiz, and share your results with me (because I’m nosy like that). Until next time guys- stay warm!

Which 90’s Nickelodeon Show Are You?

(My Results)

Which ’90s Nickelodeon Show Are You?

You got: Hey Arnold!

Way to go, football head! You’re city-savvy but still figuring it all out – it’s a big world out there past the stoop! You’ve encountered some crazy characters in your day, but you’ll always have your pals, and you’re as good a friend as they come. Just try to keep away from the sewer and you’ll be all set.

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Apple Cherry Squares

Recipe Adapted from Kashi.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups, finely crushed Kashi Go Lean Crisp Cinnamon Crumble cereal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup liquid sugar in the raw
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute (or 2 eggs)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups apples, finely diced

 Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

2. In a medium bowl, mix first seven ingredients. Mix well, then set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, liquid sugar in the raw, egg substitute, honey, oil, and vanilla. Then add diced apples and mix well.

3. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix well. Spread evenly in oiled and floured 8″ x 11″ bake pan and bake 40 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

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Old Fashioned Beef Stew

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Do you guys remember the first time that you had beef stew?

No, I don’t mean anything that came out of a can or white plastic package that was labeled Dinty Moore, Hungry Man or  Campbell’s that you had to nuke inside a microwave. That doesn’t count here.

I mean, do you remember the last time you had real beef stew: a thick, rich, , hearty, completely homemade brew of tender meat and vegetables simmering on the stove that filled the house with an aroma that made everyone literally salivate with hunger? Does anyone remember when they first had stew like that?

I sure remember the first time that I did.

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I was in my third year of undergrad at college, right before the time that I started to become interested in learning how to cook. Me and my sister (my roommate) had moved out of the dorms and into an apartment on campus. The dorm that we lived had for two years had recently been remodeled just our freshman year, including the cafeteria. We were very fortunate in that the food was not only edible, but pretty good for the most part. It spoiled us, to be honest. We didn’t realize just how much until we moved into our apartment without a cafeteria meal plan. It was…a learning experience.

We learned that frozen chicken patties got old. As did the microwaveable dinners. We also found out that as college students, consistently ordering out at local restaurants and take-out joints was not economically sustainable. Something would have to be done.

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I reached out to my mom with our ‘desperate’ situation. Her maternal instincts were completely dependable and she immediately made it apart of her routine to cook homemade meals for her daughters on the weekends that we would pick up when we came home so that we wouldn’t have to eat processed crap or takeout all the time.

My mom’s a fantastic cook. Really, truly fantastic. She made us a lot  of big, bulk dishes that could either be really stretched out to last during the week, or frozen to eat later in the future. It was one week in the Spring that one of the things Jas and I got sent home with was a big pot of beef stew.

I’d never had beef stew that wasn’t microwaveable before. But I had absolute confidence in my mom’s cooking and figured that anything she made had to be pretty good.

I was wrong.

Her beef stew wasn’t ‘pretty good’. It was absolutely incredible. To this day, that stew is seriously one of the best tasting things I’ve ever put in my mouth. The blend of spices and seasonings was just perfect. It may seem weird, but I actually remember being jealous that my mom was able to produce something that tasted so good. It was the start of my wanting to be able to learn how to cook for myself. When I finally did get comfortable in the kitchen, I still remembered the taste of that beef stew. I wanted it again. Badly. So I asked my mom what she put in it.

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Remember my mom’s philosophy about cooking? She doesn’t really use recipes anymore. Her answer was somewhere along the lines of  “Oh, I don’t know, I just put some stuff together.”

Which, you know, was loads of help.

Nevertheless: I made it a personal goal of my kitchen aspirations to be able to replicate the taste of that beef stew my mom made me in college. I’m still trying to get it down to this day. Not to say that the ones I’ve tried aren’t good- everyone, including her, tells me that they are. But they juuuuuust aren’t quite as wonderful as my mom’s.

This one though? It’s close. Not the same…but it is close.

{P.S: The rolls you see in see the background were not put there at random: there WILL be a recipe for them coming your way soon ;-)}

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Old Fashioned Beef Stew

Recipe Adapted from The Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook (14th Ed)

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 12 ounces beef stew meat, cut in 3/4 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 cups vegetable juice
  • 1 cup beer (Don’t use anything you wouldn’t want to drink)
  • 1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Instant beef bouillon granules
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups cubed potato (sweet or white, according to preference)
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1 cup sliced carrot (2 medium)

Directions

1. Place flour in a plastic bag. Add meat cubes, a few at ta time, shaking to coat.

 2. In a  Dutch oven or large saucepan brown meat in hot oil; drain fat.

  • 3. Stir in vegetable juice, water, onion, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon granules, oregano, marjoram, pepper and bay leaf.

4. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered, for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until meat is tender.

  • 5. Stir in potato, corn and carrot. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered about 30 minutes more, or until meat and vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf.

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