Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Its that time of the year again.  Pumpkin Season and Halloween.

We decided to carve a pumpkin last nite.  This is my very first pumpkin carving ever.  Well, I supervised my husband Jason carving it.

Not bad if I do say so myself.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Short Ribs....these were a slice of heaven

A nice cozy dinner to end the day with.

After a unsatisfying day at work, there is something about coming home to a nice, warm, hearty meal.

On the menu were beef short ribs with wine sauce, fresh green salad, and homemade dinner rolls.  Yummy.  I will share the recipes for the beef ribs and the rolls.

The beef ribs were fall off the bone succulent, combined with the wine sauce it was heaven.  The wine sauce reduced to a wonderful sauce that was good enough that I wanted to drink it out of the pot!  It may not look that great, but the taste was out of this world :-)

1 and 1/2 tsp. Olive or Veggie Oil
all purpose flour for dusting
1 package of beef short ribs, fat trimmed, about 6 ribs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 yellow onion
1 cup rough chopped carrots
1 and 1/2 cups of good dry red wine
1 and 1/2 cups of Low Sodium chicken or beef stock.  I used my homemade chicken stock, as it was all I had
6-8 large cremini mushrooms halved with stems, or 1 portebello rough chopped
4-6 whole small red potatoes
1/4 tsp rosemary, dried
2 cloves smashed garlic
1 tbls. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. franks red hot sauce
chopped fresh parsley

Season ribs with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour.  Heat olive oil in heavy dutch oven or heavy stock pot.  I used the stock pot for a top of the stove cooking method.  Brown the ribs on all sides, till a nice crust forms.  Remove ribs leaving any oil or drippings in the pot.  Add in rough chopped onions and carrots and quickly sautee for about 3 minutes.  Add wine and reduce about half.  Add stock, and all remaining ingredients.  Do not add additional salt at this time!  Bring sauce to a boil, reduce to simmer and add back the ribs.  Cover and simmer.

If you are using a dutch oven you can then move to the oven at 325 for about 3-4 hours, checking for tenderness after 2.5 hours.

I use the top of the stove method.  Simmer for about 2.5 hours and remove lid, check ribs for doneness and tenderness.  Simmer uncovered about 30-50 minutes longer depending on the ribs.  Sauce should reduce to about half and become thick.  You want a nice sauce consistency but not gravy like!  Taste for seasoning, and add salt at this time if not salty enough.

The veggies will become very mushy, but I like this as they almost fall apart and give the sauce body.  Ribs should be fork or fall apart tender. Plate up, and top each with some finely chopped fresh parsley and enjoy.  I enjoyed this with a nice fresh green salad with homemade croutons!

Next were the rolls.  These are a nice crusty roll that I formed into a small crescent moon shape. But these are not butter crescent style rolls.  This makes about 2.5 dozen rolls depending on size.  These turned out very crusty on the outside with a lovely soft creamy inside.  Perfect for butter and jam.  Or what I did was dip it in the wine sauce.  I think I ate 4 of these little guys before I could stop.

1 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk, I used 1%
1/2 oz of yeast
1 room temp egg
2 tbls veggie oil
6 tbls sugar
5-6 cups of flour

I'm not a precision baker, so I added all ingredients, but only about 2 cups of the flour.  I beat this with my electric mixer for about 3-4 minutes.  Then slowly added in the remaining flour about 5 cups total to form a soft sticky dough.  I moved to a floured board and began kneading mixing in more flour till the dough was not sticky.  Kneaded for about 8 minutes.  Placed in greased bowl covered with plastic wrap.  Let rise for about 45 minutes in my warmed oven.

Removed and punched down the dough. Cut the dough into thirds, put 2/3 in fridge for later use and rolled the remaining 1/3 out to about 1/2 inch thick dough.  I cut these out with a round cookie cutter about 2" size.  To get the crescent shape I folded the circles in half.  Moving them to a lightly sprayed cookie sheet.  Covered and let rise for about 30 minutes till almost double.  I found mine did not rise as much as I would like, but I think my yeast may have not been good.  Good idea to prep the yeast in sugar and water first to check to make sure its activated!  Bake at 375 for about 10-12 minutes till golden brown.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Red Beans, Rice and Corn Muffins, OH MY

A perfect day for warm and spicy red beans and rice with andouille sausage.

Spicy, warm and filling.  I like to slice up my andouille and brown it with green peppers and some jalapeño and then add it to my beans and rice during the last 5 minutes of cooking.  And I like my rice to be saucy!

So, I needed something to go with my beans and rice.  What better than corn muffins!  I wanted to make corn muffins with a little more umpf than just plain.  And I hate sweet tasting corn muffins.  I am picky about my corn bread products.  So I thought I would add some extras to make it special.

I like to call this Susie's Spicy Corn Bread

Here goes:

1 cup of corn meal
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of sugar (less if you like it less sweet)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 room temp large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup of warmed milk, I use 1%, buttermilk also works great if you have some leftovers hanging around!
1 tbls. melted butter
1 seeded and ribbed jalapeño, finely chopped
1/2 cup of prev. frozen or tinned whole corn
1/2 to 3/4 cup of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, I like the White Vermont kind
1/8 tsp. dried dill
1 clove pressed garlic, this needs to be super fine pressed, chopped or paste

Mix all ingredients together.  Let mix stand for about 5 minutes to let the baking soda do its work, then stir lightly and place in greased muffin tins.  Or you can use a square baker or small loaf pan.  I like to use regular sized muffin tins.  Fill each cup about 3/4 of the way full. This makes about 6-8 generous sized muffins.

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the muffin or type of pan.  I sometimes like to top each muffins with a small chunk of cheese during the last 5 minutes of baking. I love a good cheesy corn muffin.

Serve with softened butter and honey. This went so well with the red beans and rice.  It was a hit. And the muffins make a great snack later or for breakfast the next day, if there are any left over.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pot Pies, Nascar, and Football

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways :-)  Time to clean out the fridge and get rid of all the odd and ends.  You know...that quarter of an onion and the left overs you didnt want to throw out.

So, that leads me to my favorite thing for cleaning out the fridge....Pot Pies.  And I even had half a puff pastry sheet left over in the freezer from the apple tart from last week!

Here is my easy recipe for my pot pie last nite.

one puff pastry sheet
onions, green or yellow
one par boiled red potato cubed
1 tbls ap flour
1 tbls butter
2 cups chicken stock

I like to chop up all the veggies and any meat you may have and lightly sautee in a small amount of olive oil.   If meat is raw, then sautee it first till done then add the veggies. Remove from pan.  Add flour and butter and make a roux.  I like to take mine to a dark blonde color.  Add stock and wisk till thickened.

Prepare your ramikins or you can use one big bowl or baker.  I like to use the individual ones that way no one steals my crust.  Roll out the puff to about double the size.  I like to cut out a bottom and top crust.  Cut out bottom crust, slightly larger than the actuall bottom as it will shrink as it cooks.  Blind bake this at 375 for about 10 minutes till golden.  Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes.  Add your meat/veggie mixture then top with the sauce, up to the top of the veggie mixure.  Then drape the top crust over the top. I like to make mine bigger than the container, so it drapes over the side for maximum crust! 

Lower heat to 350 and bake for about 25-30 minutes.  Till top is golden brown to your liking.  Since the veggie/meat mixture was already hot it doesnt take long. Be sure to place you ramikins or container over a foil lined baking sheet, as you will get a lot of bubble over.

Let sit for about 5 minutes and enjoy!  This time I made it with a mac and cheese.  Talk about a calorie fest and comfort food to boot.  It was the perfect combination.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hot Cinnamon Buns, Get your Hot Cinnamon Buns!

What else to do on a lazy saturday morning?  What goes great with Coffee or Hot Chocolate?  Why Cinnamon Buns do.

I love the sweet buttery, cinnamon smell thes buns give off when the bake.  It fills the whole house with that wonderful fragrence.

Here is my reciepe for for Cinnamon Buns.

For the Dough:
3-3/4 cups of AP flour
4 tsp. of yeast
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp of salt
1/4 cup of softened room temp butter
1 cup very warm milk

The Filling:
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tbls cinnamon
1 tbls apple pie spice
1 pinch of nutmeg
Softened Butter

The Glaze
1 1/2 cups of 10x (powdered sugar)
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
Milk, enough to thinn out to a nice glaze you can drizzle over the top
Add 1/2 of the flour and all the other dry ingredients together.  Add the milk and butter.  Mix on medium for about 2 minutes.  Add the rest of the flour to form a nice dough. Knead about 5 minutes till smooth and supple.  Rise for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Punch down dough and roll out to about 10 x 15 on a lightly floured surface.  Rub enough softend butter over all of the top of the dough.  Mix all the filling ingrediantsthen spread out all of the filling over the top of the dough.  Begin rolling up starting on the 15 inch side. Roll tightly.  Trim end to make even.

Cut into even rounds, using a serrated knife.  Place into buttered 9x13 pan.  Or you can cut into larger rounds for giant rolls, in that case use your choice of pan for desired results.  Let rise again for 30 minutes. Here are the rolls after the second rise.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  I like to go a little less since I like a more doughy style roll.  Remove from oven and let set about 5 minutes before removing from pans.  Remove to cool on a cooling rack.

After cooling about 20 minutes drizzle glaze over the top.  Or you could just dip the buns into the glaze to get full coverage on the top.  Then poor a nice cup of coffee and enjoy!  I know I sure did.  I easily ate 2 before I was able to stop :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Warm Bread Warm Heart

I have finally come to grips with making bread. Real bread, not bread machine bread. I was tired of the funny shaped loaves that the bread machine makes. So I put on my big girl panties and started to knead!

These cool fall days scream out for warm toasty bread straight from the oven. And the smell is like heaven. I wonder if they make bread scented candles????

I find that I am really loving egg breads right now. This is a modified Challah bread, but made in a loaf instead of the braided loaf. I love the looks of the braid, but well, I just dont find the braided bread makes good sammichs!

This is one recipe that is a no fail for me.

3-3.5 cups of bread or all purpose flour
1 cup warm water
1/4 ounce of yeast
2 eggs (room temp)
2 tbls veggie oil
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp sugar

I like to mix half of the flour with the other ingredients for about 2-4 minutes on low with a hand mixer. Then spoon in the remaining flour as needed. You may need more of less flour depending.

Place on lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl ( I use Pam cooking spray) place in warm part of your kitchen to rise about 1 hour until almost doubled. I like to turn my oven on to warm for about 3-5 minutes, then turn it off and place the bowl inside the oven to rise. When its minus 40 outside my kitchen is not warm enough to get a good rise out of the dough.

After risen, punch down the dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Roll out dough with the width aprox. the size of your bread pan, in a rectangle shape. Roll up dough lightly and place in greased bread pan with the seam side down and edges tucked in if they are too long. Let rise again for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can brush with egg wash and put poppy seeds or seasme seeds on top as well.

Bake at 375 for aprox. 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and a light tapping on the top and bottom of loaf make a nice hollow sound. Turn out and cool on cooling rack.

I love to serve this with a nice honey butter or a compound butter of garlic and rosemary.