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By learning about basic ingredients and how to use them, you can create simple, quick and delicious meals your family will love!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

French Dip Sandwiches

After enjoying a Standing Rib Roast for Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve dinner, use the leftover beef to make these delicious French Dip Sandwiches.  A French Dip Sandwich consists of thinly sliced roast beef piled high with a few slices of Swiss cheese and is served on a hoagie style bun (or a sub roll) then cut in half for ease of handling.

Roasted and boneless Prime Rib makes the best "french dip" sandwiches because of the tenderness of the cut, not to mention the flavor. Simply trim the tail off of the leftover prime rib and thinly slice the beef for the sandwiches.

Serve with fries and a cup of au jus to dip the sandwich into (add a few croutons and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese to the au jus and you have a yummy bowl of French Onion soup to dip into).

Beef Au Jus Dipping Sauce
1 Large Onion, thinly sliced
3 TB Butter
1 tsp White Pepper
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Beef Base (optional)
Trimmings from the Prime Rib Roast
1 can Beef Broth
5 cups Water

In a large pot melt butter over medium-high heat and add the sliced onion. Saute until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer at least 1 hour (90 minutes if possible to produce the best flavor), stirring ocassionally.  Taste test during the last 30 minutes and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Irish Beef Stew with Guinness

This stew recipe has such great flavor it will quickly become a favorite.  Using Guinness Stout beer adds a rich flavor to this beef stew and then it's cooked the old fashioned way, low and slow.  At a low temperature of just 275 degrees and cooking the stew for 2 hours, the flavors blend into a creamy beefy gravy that will warm your soul on a cold winter night.   All you need is a loaf of Irish Soda Bread on the side to soak up all of the delicious gravy.

2 TB Olive Oil
3 Bay Leaves
1 1/2 lbs Beef Stew Meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch cubes (with some fat)
1 large Yellow Onion, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme, whole
3 - 4 Heaping TB All Purpose Flour
1  15 oz can  Beef Stock
1 Guinness Stout Beer
1 TB chopped Parsley (optional)
6  Carrots, peeled and sliced
8  Small Red Potatoes, washed and quartered
Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste

Heat a 6-quart stove-top and oven-proof pot over medium-high heat and add the oil and bay leaves. Heat the bay leaves for a few moments then add the beef, browning meat on all sides over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and cook until tender. Reduce heat to low and add garlic, thyme, and flour, adjusting the flour as needed to evenly coat the beef and onions; stir well until smooth.

Add the beef stock and Guinness; simmer, stirring, until the stew thickens a bit. Add the remaining ingredients, stir and cover.

Place the pot in a 275 F oven for about 2 hours, stirring a couple of times. Season with salt and pepper before serving.   Serves 6.

Monday, December 12, 2011

How Do You Make a Hot Toddy?

Although popular at ski resorts and inns, the hot toddy is not common in most cocktail lounges. This soothing drink, with it's many variations, is best prepared at home. The hot toddy is believed to be of Irish decent, and has been used as a cure for the common cold and is great for a sore throat.

Hot toddy is a name given to a mixed drink that is served hot. The essential elements are as follows:

A spirit base -- such as brandy, rum or whiskey
Hot liquid -- hot tea, coffee, cocoa, water, etc.
Sweetener -- such as honey, sugar or syrup

Other ingredients that are not necessary, though common:

Spices, generally "brown" spices such as cinnamon or cloves
Citrus, such as lemon or orange
A small quantity of butter
Lemonade can also be used instead of hot water and citrus; this is a modern variant

Despite its name, the hot toddy should not be served too hot. Heat the toddy mixture in a saucepan until just before boiling, and let it cool a few moments before pouring into a mug. Following are several versions of this classic drink.

Easy Hot Toddy For One

1 oz Whiskey or Brandy
1 oz Honey
1/2 Lemon Slice Studded with 2 cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick

Combine the brandy, honey, and lemon slice in a mug or punch cup, and add hot water to fill. Stir with a cinnamon stick, if desired.

Hot Toddy with Whiskey and Brown Sugar

1-1/2 pints Cold Water
2 - 4 tsp Brown Sugar
6 - 10 Cloves
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 or more Shots of Whiskey
1 or 2 Whole Lemons

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to just under a boil. Add juice of half or more lemons, strain off cloves if desired, and enjoy.

Hot Apple Ginger Toddy

6 oz Ginger-Infused Apple Cider
Thin slice of fresh Ginger or one piece of crystallized, Candied Ginger
1 tsp Honey
2 oz Bourbon (Maker's Mark or Jim Beam are preferred)
Slice of Lemon

First Step: Ginger-infuse the cider.  Peel and chop the ginger.  Bring apple cider to a boil in a non-aluminum pot.  Add several slices of cut and peeled ginger when cider boils.  Turn heat off and steep for 30 minutes.  Purée this mixture in a blender and strain through cheesecloth.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Second Step: Make your ginger toddy.   Heat your ginger-infused cider, but do not boil.  Add bourbon then stir in honey. Pour into a coffee mug and garnish with lemon and ginger slice (or use crystallized ginger).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sweet Potato Blondie Bars

My curiosity continues today in finding new ways to cook with Sweet Potatoes.  This began as a way to use up leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner, but now it has become an enjoyable quest to find more ways to use this tasty food in other types of dishes, especially snacks such as these Sweet Potato Blondie Bars.  Remember, sweet potatoes are good for you!  They contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and they can help regulate your blood sugar, in addition to being a great source of vitamins A and C.

This snack came to be by combining several pumpkin recipes and just substituting the sweet potatoes for the pumpkin on a 1-to-1 basis.  So far the results have been successful and delicious.  Check back for more sweet potato recipes..there are sure to be more in the very near future.  In the meantime, whip up a batch of these Sweet Potato Blondie Bars and enjoy with a cup of tea or hot cocoa. 

2 cups  Flour
1 TB  Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp  Cinnamon
1 tsp  Baking Soda
1 tsp  Salt
2 sticks  Margarine or Butter, softened
1/2 cup  Sugar
3/4 cup  Brown Sugar
1  Large Egg
2 tsp  Vanilla Extract
1 cup  Mashed Sweet Potatoes
1 cup  White Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and set aside.

Beat together the butter and sugars on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and blend until combined.  Add the sweet potatoes and blend on low speed until combined, then add the flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Blend until all of the ingredients are fully combined, then use a spoon to fold in the white chocolate chips.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan, smoothing batter into the corners.  Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides, about 35-40 minutes.  Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the bars. If the toothpick comes out clean, the bars are fully cooked.

Allow to cool before cutting if possible, although I failed on this step.  I could no longer wait to try one of these bars and they are amazing when served warm...with a cup of cocoa...Yummy!