Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Most Delicious Braised Short Ribs

**This is a terrible picture. I'm sorry, but it was New Years and I was more into the champagne.

Guys, make these. For a dinner party would be my rec, because you do most of the work the day before and they are flat out succulent. And flavorful and rich. And go ridiculously well with things like Mac 'n Cheese.

  • 10-12 beef short ribs - I always ask for the least fatty ones
  • ~2 cups mirepoix (mix of finely chopped onion, carrot, and celery) 
  • S&P
  • 1 bottle good red wine
  • ~ 6 cups beef broth
  • Worcestershire
  • Bay leaf
  • Thyme
Preheat the oven to 350.  Heat some olive oil over medium in a big dutch oven. Working in batches, brown the short ribs on all sides. Generously season with salt & pepper while cooking.  Transfer to a plate.  Pour out the excess fat, then add in the veggies, cooking for about 5-10 minutes until soft (add more oil if necessary). Transfer veggies to a bowl. Deglaze the pan with the bottle of wine.  The wine flavor really does stand out in the end, so use a bottle that you would enjoy drinking.  Turn the heat up to high and let wine reduce by 3/4 - about 20 minutes. Add the meat back into the pan, then pour in enough beef broth to almost cover. Sprinkle in a bit of worcestershire, a bay leaf, and some fresh or dried thyme. If using low sodium beef broth, you'll need to add more salt. Don't under salt! That's the fastest way to a flavorless dinner, IMO.  Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover and put in the oven for about 2.5 hours, until the meat is fork tender. Remove from the oven, let the ribs cool in the liquid, and then refrigerate (in the covered pan) overnight.

The next day, a couple hours before you want to serve dinner, take the ribs out of the fridge. And here is the magical/super gross part of this recipe. ALL of the fat will have solidified on the top - and it is A LOT - making it very easy for you to take a spoon and scoop it all out. It is a very gross yet very satisfying process. I've made short ribs before without this refrigeration/fat removal step, and have been disappointed with the fattiness of the end result. This cuts out that problem completely, allowing you to really enjoy the flavor of the meat and sauce.  Ok, so remove all the fat, then place the pan back on the stove and bring sauce to a boil. Let sauce thicken up and reduce by a lot (about 3/4), until sort of thick and glaze-like, a little over an hour. Continue to spoon sauce over the meat as it reduces down. Serve these delicious guys over something equally delectable, like creamy mashed potatoes or mac 'n cheese!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Smoothie Bowl

After spending the past several months bankrupting my family using the Favor delivery service so I could eat my beloved smoothie bowl every day, I came to a very enlightening realization. I can make my own smoothie bowl. And guess what? I LIKE MINE BETTER. 
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • Handful of chopped pineapple
  • 1/4 cup or so of almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • Coconut flakes 
  • Granola
In a food processor combine the blueberries, 1.5 of the bananas, pineapple and milk until smooth.  Pour into a bowl and top with remaining banana, coconut and granola. 

I guess this isn't really a recipe because you could throw anything into a smoothie and make it delicious, so consider this post lunch inspiration - which we could all use.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Perfect Roast Turkey

I've done loooooots of turkey research over the past few years (yes I have, because the millions of variations implies that no one has truly cracked the code), and though I have only made two turkeys in my whole life I am fairly confident that this is the combination that works: brined, breast-down, breast 155. Just remember the 3 B's. Sort of.

I bought my turkey brined because I don't have room for all of that stuff in my fridge, but you can easily create an easy brine of salt and water, and marinate the turkey in it for a couple days. This essentially infuses the turkey with lots of salt so that it retains its own moisture during the cooking process. Because the brine is so salty, you won't want to salt the turkey again before cooking.  

The next key to cooking this turkey is BREAST DOWN.  I followed Elise's instructions here, and I believe it really made a difference. The theory is that as the juices/fat releases from the turkey it flows down to the breast, the driest part of the bird. I did turn the turkey over the last several minutes to create a nice browned breast, but you could skip this.

And finally, and probably the most important key, is that you must take out the turkey when the breast reaches 155. This requires a lot of attention the last hour of cooking so that you take it out at the perfect time (hard to do when you're cocktailing and chatting). As soon as the breast hits 155, take the bird out, tent it with foil for 20-30 minutes, and by the time you eat it the breast will be 165.  I use a Thermapen thermometer and love it.

  • 1 16 lb fresh brined turkey
  • 1 onion (quartered)
  • 1 carrot (quartered or halved)
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh rosemary
  • 2 large lemons
  • 1  stick butter
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper
Heat oven to 425.  Rinse turkey out, then pat dry inside and out. Place in large roasting pan, breast side down. Stuff the inside of the turkey with the onion, carrot, 1 lemon (halved), and several sprigs thyme.  Close up the opening and truss the turkey if you want. 

Using a food processor (or just finely chop), create a paste with several sprigs of thyme, rosemary, zest of the other lemon, and a little olive oil.  Melt the butter in a bowl and add the lemon-herb paste.  Brush 3/4 of it all over the turkey, top and bottom. Sprinkle the turkey with some fresh ground pepper. Reserve the remaining butter for browning the breast later on.

Place the turkey in the 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Decrease oven temp to 325 for the next 2 hours. Decrease to 250 until done, checking the temperature regularly.  Typically they say 13-15 minutes per pound. When the breast reaches about 145-150, turn the turkey over. Brush with remaining butter mixture, and either turn the broiler on or increase oven to 400.  Brown breast until it reaches 155.  You can skip the browning process if you want to, especially if you have a giant turkey.  Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil for 20-30 min before carving.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Best Chicken Salad Sandwich

Warning! This recipe is for one. Warning! This chicken salad is sooooo good. Exactly what I like in a chicken salad - slightly sweet, slightly tangy, slightly crunchy. If you like a more savory salad, move along.

  • 1 heaping cup of shredded chicken (I use rotisserie)
  • 3 tablespoons light mayo
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
  • Dash salt
  • Handful craisins
  • Handful slivered almonds
  • Handful diced grapes or celery (I used green grapes I had in the fridge)

Mix the mayo, sugar, milk, vinegar and salt together to create the dressing. Mix together with remaining ingredients, and voila! Chicken salad. Serve on some hearty wheat bread and you've got one delicious lunch or dinner.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Healthy Weeknight Broccoli Mac N Cheese

My cravings for mac n' cheese lately are out of hand.  I really wanted it last week for dinner, but felt like I should eat something a tad more nutritious than the Kraft version (though I loooove the Kraft version).  So,  I made a few substitutions and wound up with a very tasty mac n' cheese that does offer some nutritional value. I kept it pretty cheesy because I needed it to be, but if you wanted to trim that down you could cut back on calories there. My husband loved this!

  • 3 cups dry whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash dry mustard
  • Dash nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar
  • 2/3 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups cooked broccoli

Cook pasta according to directions in generously salted water. Meanwhile, steam broccoli (you want 2 cups AFTER the broccoli is cooked).

In another pot, bring 1 1/2 cups of the milk to a simmer. Whisk the corn starch in the remaining milk, and stir into the simmering milk until thickened. Add salt and seasonings. Turn off heat, and add in the cheddar and cottage cheese.

Drain pasta and mix with sauce and broccoli.  Place in 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Taco Dip

I loooove dip. I love the chips, I love the endless options, I love appetizers, and I love the act of dipping. This dip is a combination of all the things I've loved about various taco dips throughout my life. It's MY perfect taco dip, and my husband's I supposed too because he's in love. And, it's super easy!

  • 2 cans Fritos bean dip
  • 8 oz light sour cream
  • 8 oz light cream cheese
  • 1/2 envelope taco seasoning
  • Taco sauce
  • Shredded lettuce
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 diced roma tomatoes

Spread the bean dip in the serving dish of your choice (I halved the recipe and used a 9 inch pan). Heat in the microwave until warm or bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream, cream cheese and taco seasoning together. Layer over the warm bean dip. Drizzle with taco sauce (amount up to you...I did a generous drizzle), then top with cheese, lettuce (enough to get a little crunch in each bite, but don't over do it), and tomatoes. Serve with tortilla chips!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Now that my pregnancy nausea has sort of ceased (I'm convinced it will never totally go away), the best thing has been very distinct cravings. Like I never just want a salad, or a sandwich,  I want an oriental salad with sesame dressing and wonton strips or a turkey sandwich with pickle and honey mustard.  This casserole was a product of that. I wanted a creamy chicken casserole with wild rice and teeny tiny chopped vegetables. Done.

  • 1 box Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice (small box - 6 oz I think)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded (I got a rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 cups chopped/small frozen vegetables (I used peas, carrots, and chopped broccoli)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 stalk celery, diced
  • salt (at least 1/2 tsp, more to taste)
  • pepper

Cook the rice according to instructions.  In a separate pan, cook the onion and celery in 1 tablespoon butter for about 5-10 minutes until tender. In a bowl, combine the cooked rice, chicken, soup, half & half, onion mixture, and S&P.  Pour into a casserole dish, cover, and bake at 300 for 30 minutes (or until warm). You could serve this with a salad, but preferred a warm, buttery, crusty piece of bread.