February 25, 2010

Beef Stew for the Winter Weather Blues

It was snowing pretty hard this morning and has now faded a bit but there is more snow-a-coming! So what's better than a nice hot bowl of stew for a cold wintery, snowy night. And of course I have to make my mom's beef stew, cause it's the only one I have ever really had and it's so delicious!

Beef Stew

1 lb. stew meat, beef cubes
1-2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 carrots chopped
One 32 ounce (4 cups) beef broth
1 cup water
2 potatoes, diced
Salt and Pepper
Slurry (2 T each flour and water combined)

  • Brown the meat in the bottom of the pot, until nice and brown. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the chopped onion and carrot and saute until softened.
  • Add the beef broth and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Peel and dice potatoes and add into the pot. Simmer until the potatoes are fork tender
  • Make slurry of flour and water. Add to the boiling stew, stir while adding the slurry. Mixture should quickly come up to a thick consistency. Cool slightly before serving

Of course you have to have bread for dipping in the yummy gravy of the stew. And lucky for us right across the street is this great little bakery, Blackbird Baking Co. We love getting their French Epi loaves, which is pretty much a "pull-off-your-own-dinner-roll" loaf. It sort of look like a branch off a tree. But tonight I decided on just a regular French Baguette.

It's got a great crusty outside and soft doughy inside, so good! And whenever I go I can't just leave with bread and not get one of their delicious cookies! They do have the best Peanut Butter Cookies I have ever had...all soft in the middle...yum! The hubs likes those and the Chocolate Chip Cookies, which I picked up for him. For myself I got the Cranberry Oat Cookie. It's amazing. So soft in the middle with a slight crisp along the edge. Not too sugary and just delicious! It nice to be able to support a local business and they have the baked goods that deserve the support.

*Note: I did not add pictures of my bowls of stew, which I am really sad about. But I forgot to buy beef broth when I went shopping and had to use chicken and so it's didn't look right and the consistency was off because I just realized I didnt make the slurry right, I only did 1 T each...like a dummy. So when I make this again I will have to post pictures.

February 23, 2010

Adventures in Food Photography

So with the help of Dan, my hubsie, we tested out lighting and placement and figure out what we need to capture some nice food photography. Of course this was after dinner so we had a bowl of pretzels to work with. What we need was to find a way to position the lights, since I am having to take pictures when it is dark out and cannot use the natural lighting, and we need to find a way to have a solid background. We are gonna pick up some poster board or foam core for the backdrop and we have some ghetto lighting rigged up, but it works.

Here is the final result!

Not too shabby!! We used a white towel for the backdrop and foreground, but it shows a bit too much texture, so we are gonna have to go and get the poster board like I said. But I think we are well on our way! Now I feel capable of helping my friend Lynds with maybe taking pictures of her cupcakes!

Thanks for the help babes!

Happy Adventuring!!

Caribou Coffee and Chicken Alfredo

One of mine and Dan's favorite things to do when the weather is nice is to walk over the bridge to Caribou and get coffee and talk. It was a bit chilly today, like in the 30's but we trekked over to Caribou for some nice hot mochas (his a Campfire Mocha mine a Turtle Mocha). It was really nice, cause it's been forever since we have been able to do that. Plus I didn't have the best day so it was nice to spend time with my hubsie and talk. We did this after he got out of work so after our coffee it was time for me to get home to make dinner. Tonight it was Chicken Alfredo.

First off let me give you a great way to make chicken where you don't have to constantly watch it and it's gets cooked through and it still juicy.

The best way to cook chicken:

  1. Get a skillet nice and hot with olive oil.
  2. Season up your chicken on one side and place that side down in the skillet. After it gets nice and brown on the side flip it and cooked one minute more.
  3. Place the skillet in a 350 oven for 15 mins (depending on the size of your chicken it could take more or less time). If your skillet doesn't have an oven safe handle cover the handle with foil before placing in oven.
  4. Remove from oven and let sit a few mintues to let the juices redistribute and then slice or serve whole. For the alfredo I sliced each breast and placed it on top of the pasta.
For this alfredo I used penne pasta, because that is what I had on hand, but you can use fettucini or whatever pasta you prefer. But alfredo sauce is thick so you want something that can hold that sauce well.

Alfredo Sauce

2 T butter
2 T flour
2 - 3 cloves garlic, grated
1.5 - 2 cups milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
salt, pepper and parsley

Melt the butter in a saucepan and grate in your garlic. Once melted and fragrant with garlic, add the flour to make a roux. Once thick add your milk, stirring it in. Salt and pepper and let it come to a bubble, it will thicken. Add the parmesan cheese and the parsley, stir to combine. Check for seasoning, sometimes you can add more cheese or pepper. Add over your favorite pasta and you are good to go!

I will say I sometimes have issues with the sauce thickening up, either I have to wait it out or sometimes after I add the cheese it thickens a bit.

So for my finally dish, and since I want fun pictures for this blog I made my plates look fancy. I plated the pasta and sauce and added the sliced chicken on top, and it looked quite nice!

I know, I know, I still need to work on my pics...they are gonna be the death of me, but I will learn how to take nice food pics eventually...*sigh*

That's all for today!!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

February 20, 2010

Book of the Week

So apparently this is gonna be more than just about food...haha... With my job, I don't have much to do so I read...A LOT! So I thought it might be fun to share what books I am currently reading or have just finished and then maybe it will give you and idea on what to read next or if you have read it you can tell me what you thought.

Feb. 20: Incarceron by: Catherine Fisher

(From Goodreads.com) "Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery...A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ..."

My Thoughts:

I found this book to be very exciting. I was always wondering what was gonna happen next or if they were gonna meet and what not. Actually I am still in the process of reading it, so some of these questions are still unanswered. I do like that it has a slight fantasy feel to it and like a lot of the idea the book toys with, like the "living-breathing prison" and how her world is suppose to embody another era. You never what time or place it is taking place which is also kinda of intriguing, cause you could almost read it as taking place now.

*Note: Ok I just finished it and I have to say it was pretty good! It definitely leaves room for the next book, which for some reason they don't have on the library website...hmmmm. But I thought it was great and it had a good story. Sometimes I got a little lost as to what they were doing exactly. Some of the stuctures they would describe I wouldn't understand what they were talking about, or I didn't know how to picture it to get the idea of what they needed to do. But overall it was a good book!

Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread couldn't be easier. And what's better than sugar, dough and butter...nothing! This is a great dessert or party food because its just pulls apart and everyone can take however much the want. And it's so delicious!

Here is the recipe I used, I have one other one and one for mini monkey breads, but the mini calls for making your own dough and this one just uses store bought biscuit dough in the tubes. And yes it uses a stick and half of butter. Get over it. It's butter. It's delicious and you won't be eating this all the time. :)

Monkey Bread

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cans (16 oz.) Homestyle Buttermilk Biscuits (should be 8 in a tube)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted

Heat oven to 350. Grease a fluted tube or bundt pan.

In a storage baggie combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon. Separate the biscuits so you have 16 biscuits. Quarter each biscuit and place in the baggie with the cinnamon sugar.

Toss to coat each biscuit piece with the cinnamon sugar.

Arrange the biscuit pieces in the greased bundt pan.

Melt the butter and add the brown sugar and combine. Pour over the top of the arranged biscuit pieces in the bundt pan. Bake for 28-32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy. Let stand for 10 minutes in pan. Turn out on to a serving dish (I like using a pie pan cause it's gets gooey and messy and the side on the pan help keep it all contained) and serve warm.

It will be ooey and it will be gooey...that means it's good! I love that fact that it is all pull-apart, I think that is so fun! You get a little messy and it just easy going and comfortable. It's a great warm, comfort dessert. I hope you try it and enjoy!
Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

P.S. Please don't judge my pictures...I am gonna have to work on the whole lighting thing *argh*

*Note: You could really add anything you want to this recipe. Adding rasians or nuts would be good or even dried cranberry. Maybe try chocolate chips and they could melt and make it all chocolatey!

February 19, 2010


So, I haven't really decided what this blog is gonna be. I think I am just excited to have started one and this is fun right now. So on Wednesday I have belly-dance work-out classes with some of my friends. We used to take classes in Elyria with a teacher, but she moved on and we were left to ourselves, so we started our own class. It's been on and off but one of the girls is getting married and wanted us to perform, so here we are dancing again!

So we always start with Yoga first and it can be any different kind of yoga. This week we did Abs Yoga...ow! Pretty much, lying on your back lifting your legs up straight using your abs and then lower them back to the ground slowly. Over and over and over and over and over...omg! But it's nice for me, being a chubbier girl to know that I have abs under there!! I have been feeling them now for 2 days...they are sore but happy!

After we do yoga we do about and hour and a half of belly-dance. We drill the movements and do arms and shoulder work and lots of hips, locking and shimmies. We get sweaty! And then we always finish with some PM Yoga which is a great cool down and it stretches and relaxes the body after all the work we did...it's great!

I usually always feel "blah" about going to belly-dance every week, but once I get there and after the yoga I feel better about it. Cause I know my body needs to move cause it's just sits and doesn't move all week...haha...my bad. So this week was fun and I love doing the yoga!!

February 18, 2010

Bbq Pork Chops & Garlic Mashed Red Skin Potatoes

First of I have to say...I make the best mashed potatoes! I found the best way to make them super flavorful and really delicious is to use garlic butter and sour cream. Here's what I do:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

One bag of small red skin potatoes (@ Giant Eagle, sorry I don't know the size of the bag?)

3-4 T butter, melted

3 cloves garlic, grated
1/3 to 1/2 cup sour cream

Splash of milk

First decide if you want the skins on or off the potatoes, either way, they are delicious. So rinse and clean potatoes or peel them and cut into quarters and place in a medium sauce pot. Fill the pot with water to just cover the potatoes. Add salt to water. Place on med-high heat and cover until boiling. Once boiling reduce and simmer for about 10-15 mins or until fork-tender. Drain and place back in pot.

Once potatoes are drained melt the butter in a small pot and grate in garlic. You can just smash the cloves and drop them in but I like using a small hand grater and just grate it in, that way you don't have big chunks of garlic. While that is melting together, add sour cream to potatoes and mash together. Add the butter and garlic and continue mashing. At this point you can taste and see if it needs more salt or any kind of seasoning. Mine were a little dry still so I added a little more sour cream and a splash of milk. I think used a hand mixer to blend the potatoes, but you can leave them chunkier if you wish. So good!! Also, I don't care much for pepper, so totally add pepper if you like that flavor in your potatoes.

With the potatoes I made pork chops. Now believe it or not, I got a great package of pork chops from Aldi...I know, but there were really good!! Anyway, there were 4 in the package, and they were maybe a 1/2 inch thick or so, and not very fatty. Very nice coming from Aldi.

So I seasoned them up with salt, pepper, chili powder and garlic powder. I got them brown on both sides in a skillet and then transferred them to a 325 oven and cooked them in there for about 15 mins. About half way through I basted them with some bbq sauce and they were delicious.
I didn't have a chance to take pictures of the great meal, but I hope to add other pictures to my blog soon enough. I am gonna be picky about it, so we will see how the food photos come along.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

The Beginning

Well, I guess there is no better place to start than the beginning. Lately I have been feeling unmotivated and very...blah. Just blah. So I thought something to occupy my time would be a little blog...mostly about food. I have been getting into food blogs and thought I might as well try it myself.

It won't be anything fancy. I will probably just post things once in a while that are worth posting. Some of my really good dinners that I am excited about or things that have come out well. I don't plan on this being a big thing at all, just something for myself so I feel important and feel as though I am really doing something for me, to better myself. I may also blog about things going on in my life if I feel necessary...so there ya go!!

Let's start this adventure!!