Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Month in Review - September 2014

The Month in Review - September 2014

I was just looking back at last month's review and saw that I promised there wouldn't be an onslaught of pumpkin recipes here until October.  I said I'd stick to apples and pears and figs but, OK, so one slipped in. I just had an overwhelming urge to see if pumpkin and soda bread go well together and do they ever!

But otherwise I stuck to my promise and even threw in a little chocolate and peanut butter because... well... chocolate and peanut butter!  I also got a head start on three comforting dinner recipes that will be repeated here often over the colder months.  And now that October is here, prepare for the pumpkin onslaught!  Oh, not really, but I've definitely already got pumpkins on my counter and I can feel a pumpkin bread coming on.  While I carve up those bad boys, though, let's take a look back at a seriously tasty September.  Enjoy!

The Month in Review - September 2014

Check out the September drinks on A Cocktail Life!


Spiced Pear Hand Pies


Sweet Spiced Pear Bread


Chocolate and Peanut Butter Marbled Sandwich Cookies


Not Lazy Meatloaf


Pumpkin Soda Bread


Labneh Cheesecake with Honeyed Figs


Easy Pulled Chicken Chili


Salisbury Steak



Monday, September 29, 2014

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury Steak

Can you even hear Salisbury steak mentioned without thinking of childhood?  For me it represents the quintessential frozen dinner, that special treat that my mother rarely allowed.  But when she did finally give in and I had a choice, it was usually this one that I'd pick.


Salisbury Steak
The irony, of course, is that as an adult with the ability to purchase that meal whenever I wish, I no longer want it.  At least not in the frozen version. The scratch made Salisbury steak is not only easy to make but the aroma of sizzling beef and mushroom gravy coming together is as wonderful as the dinner itself.  Enjoy!









Ingredients

Beef Patties:
1 lb. Ground beef
1 Egg
1 Small onion, peeled and finely diced
1/4 Cup breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon pepper
1/4 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Sauce:
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
8 oz. Sliced baby Bella mushrooms
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
2 Cups beef stock
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt & pepper to taste

Salisbury Steak
In a bowl, combine the beef, egg, onion, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix by hand, gently and form into 4 equal patties. Heat the butter in a large skillet and cook the beef patties, on medium heat for 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add an additional tablespoon of butter to the pan along with the mushrooms and cook on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes or until slightly browned. Move the mushrooms to the sides of the pan and add the flour to the center. Slowly whisk in the beef stock, making sure to scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper and return the beef patties to the pan.  Continue to cook on medium low heat for an additional 10 minutes for the sauce to thicken and the beef patties to cook through.  Finish by stirring in the final tablespoon of butter and the parsley. Serve over noodles or mashed potatoes. Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Easy Pulled Chicken Chili


This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Manwich for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Today I thought I'd share my weekly meal plan with you:
Weekends - Farmer's market and grocery shopping.  Elaborate homemade meals and desserts both days.
Monday - Leftovers (we love 'em!)
Tuesday - Possible small amount of remaining leftovers supplemented by veggies and beans.
Wednesday - Eggs
Thursday - Desperate pantry scrounge
Friday - Help!

Notice that fast food and take-out were not on the list and the only way to avoid those is to keep a well stocked scrounge-worthy pantry.  Pasta, canned beans and sauces are so handy to have around and, if I put my mind to it, can produce some crave-worthy meals.

Since weeknights are busy and tiring, they require a speedy meal and one of my favorite shortcuts is picking up a rotisserie chicken on the way home.  A few minutes to shred it into a skillet, add a can beans and a can of Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce and just heat it through. The sauce is sweet and tangy and a handful of fresh herbs does wonders to brighten it up.  Served over rice, it's not only a quick meal but also one everybody looks forward to and I'd call that a successful pantry scrounge.

Naturally, this would also make a great sandwich filling for lunch the next day. But if you suspect that your family might not leave you enough, you could secretly stash away a small container in the fridge. Not that I'm, for a moment, suggesting that I've done such a thing.  Nope, not at all. Just forget I even brought it up. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 Rotisserie chicken
1 Can (15.5 oz.) Hunt's Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce (I used the Bold flavor)
1 Can (approx. 15 oz.) beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 Cup shredded cheese (I used a Tex/Mex blend)
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped scallions or chives

Remove the skin from your chicken and shred it using two forks or your fingers. Place the chicken in a large skillet and add the Sloppy Joe sauce and beans. Cook on a medium low flame for a few minutes until it begins to heat through.

Stir in the cheese and top with the scallions. Serve over rice or pasta.  Makes approximately 4 servings.



Find other Easy Weeknight Meals and Manwich Recipes visit their web site.



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Monday, September 22, 2014

Labneh Cheesecake with Honeyed Figs


Those of you familiar with labneh are now racing to the bottom of this article to find where you can get your hands on it.  For the uninitiated, I shall explain.  Lebnah is a Middle Eastern yogurt cheese.  Basically, think Greek style yogurt but even more strained.  Thick, almost a cream cheese consistency, rich and tart and heavenly tasting.  It's usually drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with za'atar (more on this wonderful spice soon) and served as a dip with pita bread.  It was many years since I'd had it but I never forgot.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pumpkin Soda Bread

Pumpkin Soda Bread

I was trying to hold off on the pumpkin recipes until October, I really was! But I was walking past my favorite gourmet food and produce store and there they were. Not all markets have them yet but this place did. A big display of pumpkins and squash and those little gourds that I love so much. Oh, all right, I give in. I really do love pumpkin.

Pumpkin Soda Bread
What I will do is start off a little light. I usually kick off my fall baking with a pumpkin bread but I was thinking of what new version to make. The pumpkin bread we usually think of is a sweet quick bread but why not make an actual bread? No yeast and kneading this time. Just my favorite soda bread recipe adapted to include a light touch of pumpkin.

This bread is not really sweet although it's great with some honey drizzled on it. I ate it with butter and a bowl of soup. And it's going into the make again this season pile because it's that good.  Enjoy!





Ingredients
4 Cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 Teaspoons salt
1 Stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1" pieces
1 Egg
1 Cup buttermilk
2/3 Cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 Cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds

Pumpkin Soda Bread
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in the butter using either a fork or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles large crumbs.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk and pumpkin puree.  Fold the wet mixture into the dry until a dough ball forms and turn it out onto a floured surface.  Kneed it lightly into a large loaf shape.  You can place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or bake it in a 9" pie dish, which is what I did.  Press the seeds into the top of the dough so that they stick.  Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 40 - 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Makes approximately a dozen slices.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Not Lazy Meatloaf

Not Lazy Meatloaf

Hi, my name is Anita and I'm a recovering lazy meatloaf maker. Maybe you can relate, maybe not, but this is my story. I grew up eating and liking meatloaf. My mother made it and taught me to make it. We were a meatloaf eating family. When I grew up and began my own life, I continued to make meatloaf but that life got a little busy. Shortcuts began to creep in.

Not Lazy Meatloaf
The walk to the butcher shop became long after a hard day of work. Supermarket ground beef is probably fine. Sauteing the vegetables before adding them to the meat seems like so much extra work. It'll be fine if I just add them in raw. I don't have time to chop up all those herbs if I'm also mashing potatoes and tossing salad. Dry herbs are fine. That whole business of mixing the meat gently by hand instead of beating the tar out of it with a spoon is just an old wive's tale (I hate getting my hands in meat). Lazy meatloaf was born.

And suddenly, people didn't like the meatloaf and didn't want to eat it.  Fine.  I'll eat it.  I think it tastes good.  Except, I didn't really and started making it less often.  And then not at all.  But take me to any diner or casual restaurant that offered it and you could bet I'd be ordering the meatloaf.  Why, I'd wonder, can't I cook it this good at home?  I can cook almost anything.  And the truth set in.  I am a lazy meatloaf maker.  Don't be like me.  Don't do as I've done.  Do as I will now do.  Any meatloaf that's born in my kitchen from now on will have been made properly, in the non-lazy method.  And it will be good.  Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 lb. Ground beef *
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Onion, peeled and diced
4 Cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 Egg
1/4 Cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/3 Cup milk
1 Tablespoon chopped chives
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1 Teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt & pepper to taste (I used a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper)

* Because the beef is the dominant flavor, it's important to buy high quality ground beef. You can choose to use a mixture of beef, veal and pork but I advise against buying the supermarket "meatloaf mix" unless you know the quality.

Not Lazy Meatloaf
Add the olive oil and diced onions to a large saute pan. Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and very lightly caramelized. Stir in the garlic, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, add the ground beef, egg, milk, breadcrumbs, herbs, seasoning and the onion and garlic mixture. Gently fold the mixture together with your hands and do not overwork it. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and mold into a loaf shape. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown. Makes approximately 8 slices or 4 servings.

I served the meatloaf with the same, simple gravy as in my Swedish Meatballs.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Marbled Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Marbled Sandwich Cookies

I think you all know that I'm a big fan of OXO kitchen products and use them daily.  I've had the pleasure of getting to know some members of the OXO team and gotten the opportunity to test many of their products.  So far my only complaint is that I don't have a large enough kitchen to have all their tools because I certainly want them. And so it was my pleasure to lend them a hand in baking to raise money for a great cause.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Marbled Sandwich Cookies
Sadly, a long time employee of theirs lost a son to pediatric cancer and that prompted OXO to create the Good Cookies project to raise funds for research. They will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of specially marked tools so please visit the site and see the complete list.

And what are you going to do with those tools?  You're going to bake amazing cookies.  I don't know what you consider amazing but my definition pretty much always includes peanut butter and chocolate.  And more peanut butter.  Lots more.  Enjoy!

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Marbled Sandwich Cookies
Ingredients

Peanut Butter Dough:
1 Egg
3/4 Cup sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup peanut butter
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoon all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons milk

Chocolate Dough:
1 Egg
1/2 Cup white sugar
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Cup all purpose flour
1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon milk

Filling:
1/2 Cup confectioner's sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 Cup peanut butter
Pinch of salt

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Marbled Sandwich Cookies
To make the peanut butter dough, cream the egg, sugar, vanilla, butter and milk until smooth.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and fold into the peanut butter mixture.  Set aside.

To make the chocolate dough, cream the egg, sugar, butter, vanilla and milk.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.  Fold into the butter mixture until well combined.

Using a scoop (1 oz. - 1 1/4 oz.) grab about a third scoop full of the peanut butter dough and the rest of chocolate dough.  Don't worry if it's not exact.  Drop the scoops onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and keep them spaced a few inches apart to allow for spread.  Sprinkle a touch of sea salt on top of each scoop, if desired.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Marbled Sandwich Cookies
Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and allow to cool before removing them from the baking sheet.  I used two baking sheets and alternated them in the oven.

While the cookies are cooling, make the filling by whisking together the confectioner's sugar and milk.  Mix in the salt and peanut butter until smooth. When the cookies have cooled, spread about a heaping teaspoon of filling on half of them and top with the other half.  This recipe should yield approximately 2 dozen cookies which will make a dozen sandwich cookies.

Note that OXO provided me with the tools to make these cookies but I was not otherwise compensated. Thank you for supporting the products I love and use in my kitchen.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sweet Spiced Pear Bread

Sweet Spiced Pear Bread

My pear obsession is getting out of control.  First there was Spiced Pear Hand Pies then came Pear Cosmos and now we have pear bread.  Actually, what we had was a couple of leftover pears and I couldn't resist putting them to good use.

Sweet Spiced Pear Bread
I'd actually been trying to decide what kind of pear bread to make for a while now.  I could have just chopped them up into the batter and made my life easy.  Or I could have gone all fancy, poached them and then baked them whole into the bread.  My friend Heather from GirliChef did just that recently and the result was absolutely gorgeous.

In the end I decided to split the difference.  I sliced the pears raw and inserted them into the batter such that every slice of the bread would have a slice of the pear.  A little easy, a little fancy and a whole lot of delicious.  Enjoy!

Ingredients
2 Eggs
1 Cup sugar
1 Stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1 Container (approx. 7 oz.) Greek style yogurt (full fat)
2 Cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 Teaspoon nutmeg
2 Firm pears, peeled and cored

Sweet Spiced Pear Bread
Using either a stand or hand mixer, add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl and beat together until fully combined.  Beat in the butter, vanilla and yogurt.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet until all the flour is incorporated. Butter and flour a loaf pan (add parchment paper for easy removal) and pour in the batter.

Slice each pear into 4 or 5 vertical slices and insert the slices evenly into the batter in the pan.  The pears will stand because the batter is thick.  The goal is to have a pear slice in each loaf slice.  Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 - 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Dust with powdered sugar before serving.  Makes approximately 10 servings.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Spiced Pear Hand Pies

Spiced Pear Hand Pies

I was out shopping recently, minding my own business, not really looking for anything in particular, when I saw a big 4 1/2" copper pear shaped cookie cutter.  I had to have it.  It's possible I may have had a need for an apple shaped one, too.  And now I had to do something with it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Month in Review - August 2014

The Month in Review - August 2014

Happy Labor Day!  It's a long weekend for most of us and the unofficial end of summer.  Here in New York, kids go back to school tomorrow, weekend beach house shares are over and we're starting to think about fall.  We've actually been having a little mini heat wave for the last few days but I know it won't be long now before I start pulling out the jackets and sweaters.  I may have...um...already bought a new pair of Aldo boots because...Aldo! And boots!  OK, I'm guilty, I love fall.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

What do you do when you like thick, crunchy, crumbly cookies but someone you care about likes soft, thin, chewy ones?  Well, OK, I guess you could make both.  But I think this time we'll just make him what he wants.  Of course, that's not necessarily easy since what he wants is basically a homemade Entenmann's chocolate chip cookie.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Goat Cheese Mousse with Blueberry Compote

Goat Cheese Mousse with Blueberry Compote

Name a cheese and I'm likely to tell you that it's one of my favorites.  In fact, except for a couple of the extra stinky ones, I've rarely met a cheese I didn't love.  Nevertheless, there are a few that make more frequent appearances around here than others and goat cheese is definitely one.  I love the slight tang it has and it's such a great addition to the many salads I make.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Portable Cherry Crumb Pie Jars

Portable Cherry Crumb Pie Jars

Today you can read my article on Hoosier Homemade where I discuss the very serious problem of crumb theft.  Yes, the rampant crime spree that occurs in my kitchen whenever I've baked a crumb topped dessert has left me desperate to find a solution.  And since it does seem to be all about the filling and the crumb topping, I've solved the problem by eliminating the pie crust altogether and just handing everybody their own personal crumb filled dessert jars.

Head on over to Hoosier Homemade to see the recipe!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chicken Milanese Topped with Crunchy Salad

Chicken Milanese Topped with Crunchy Salad

When I have a great meal in a restaurant, I usually try to recreate it at home.  I don't usually wait four years to share it with you, though.  Then again, we waited practically a lifetime in between visits to this amazing place so I'll have to chalk both things up to 'life got in the way' and not try too hard to figure it out.  The restaurant in question was the Union Square Cafe, practically a New York institution and a temple to farmer's market freshness.  The vibe is casual, though expensive, and the food is fresh, simple and perfect.  Exactly like this dish.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chicken Meatballs in Creamy Tarragon Sauce

Chicken Meatballs in Creamy Tarragon Sauce

What's for dinner?  You know that dreaded question, right?  Day after day after day.  So I'm here today with another option.  I can whip up a batch of meatballs very quickly so it's a frequent go-to meal whenever I have any ground meat.  But that just means it can get a little boring.  A fun sauce, though, makes all the difference.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Savory Tomato Cobbler with Gorgonzola Biscuits

Savory Tomato Cobbler with Gorgonzola Biscuits

We've been going a little tomato crazy around here this summer.  I realize that sounds normal to most of you but...um...I used to hate tomatoes.  Yes.  Hate.  And I know you're thinking that I probably still ate things like ketchup and tomato pasta sauce but you'd be wrong.  Hate is hate.  Happily, tastes can change.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Month in Review - July 2014

The Month in Review - July 2014

I hope you all have been enjoying summer because I certainly have.  It's been a remarkably mild July by New York standards with very few days over 90 degrees.  Typically, July is the hotter and stickier of the summer months so we seem to have gotten through it with very little reason to complain.  August is when the city really slows down, temperatures are lovely and people schedule vacations and beach time.  I'm planning to savor every moment of it.  Speaking of savoring, July was a delicious month in the Hungry Couple household with several ridiculously good new recipes.  So, before we get back to the business of delighting in the weather, let's take a look back at the good eats and drinks of July.  Enjoy!