Colcannon

I don’t know about you, but I’m officially ready for all things green, and it’s not even St. Patrick’s Day anymore. I’ve bookmarked so many festive, spring-y recipes in the past three days alone that I may have to spend extra time in my kitchen once our water troubles are over, just so I can get into the spirit. I’m quite tired of the winter blues.

This year for St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to bake our corned beef brisket rather than boil with vegetables. In previous years, we always end up with a ton of leftover cabbage, and not a lot of the really flavorful ‘stuff’.  Plus, since we’re grown-ups and had to work, neither of us could stay home and drink cook all day. Ah, those were the days…

…anyway, this was the recipe that I made to go along with our corned beef. We needed something tasty, yet easy to whip up – you all know how Mondays are! What’s even better is that I didn’t have to buy any cabbage – I had a half-head of it in my freezer, leftover from our CSA. It was the perfect amount needed to whip up this recipe for colcannon.

Colcannon

adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

  • 1-2 tbsp bacon bits
  • 2 lbs small red potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. In a pot, bring the potatoes to a boil. Continue until the potatoes are fork tender (around 15-20 minutes).
  2. Around ten minutes into the potato boil, heat the oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly browned.
  3. Add the cabbage and periodically toss as it cooks down. Add some salt & pepper as you go. Add the bacon bits and toss to combine. At this point, make sure to check the potatoes – if they are nowhere near done, turn off the cabbage so that it does not burn.
  4. Once the potatoes are finished cooking, drain and return them back to the pot. Add the milk, butter and a dash of salt and pepper; mash away!
  5. Add the cabbage mixture to the potatoes and mix well.
Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

I never really thought about putting bacon into colcannon until I found the original recipe for this post. It really adds a little something extra to the dish (and probably to my waistline, too). Obviously, you are more than welcome to omit the bacon if you so choose. I used bacon bits because that’s what I had in my refrigerator, and I didn’t really feel it was necessary to really grease up the skillet any more than I needed to (especially with all the plumbing issues we’ve been having).

This dish is delicious, easy on the wallet, and definitely not the worst thing you could consume on St. Patrick’s Day.

Valentine’s Day Fondue

I suppose I should let you in on a little secret as to one of our favorite “traditions” that we have, just the two of us.

For our Valentine’s Day celebration, we like to fondue. We’ll clear off the coffee table, set out bowls of dippable fruit, vegetables, & proteins…and have ourselves a wonderful & relaxing meal while watching movies. We received a fondue pot (the kind you can use Sterno with) as a wedding shower gift – it came with both a glass pot and a metal pot. The glass one broke…so a few years ago my sister gave us a new, electric one for Christmas.

Electric fondue pots are where it’s at. Easy to heat, easy to clean, easy easy EASY! 🙂

This year one of the movies we watched was West Side Story. I’ve seen this movie so many times, yet Mike never had. It was really hilarious to watch this with him and hear all of his commentary. As you can imagine, it’s those comments that often people just keep to themselves 🙂 The best part is that my husband truthfully does appreciate musical theater – he just likes to make comments to make me laugh!

We never did get to the chocolate fondue – as yours truly fell asleep (I ended up coming down with a chest cold the next day, also in true Valentine’s Day tradition – I’m sick almost every year on VDay. How’s that for romance?) We ended up cooking up cheese fondue as an appetizer, and broth fondue for the main course. Chocolate will just have to wait until this cough subsides…

Cheese Fondue

adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 2 dashes garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup beer (we used homebrewed Saison or spitless Chicha, can’t recall)
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, diced into cubes
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  1. Turn on your fondue pot.
  2. Combine first four ingredients and stir until the cheese is melted.
  3. Add hot sauce & worcestershire sauce (to taste) and stir to combine.
  4. Serve with your favorite dippables!

Behold the power of cheese.

Alright, so maybe it’s a little odd that we drank red wine with our beer-y cheese? Oh well. It was awesome anyway. We ate our cheese fondue with some crusty French bread from Breadworks. I also bought some broccoli & an apple to slice, but in the end we decided to keep this course a bit simple.

photo (4)

For our next course, we opted for a broth fondue to be a bit healthier. I had a quart of mushroom broth lurking in my pantry. I supplemented it with some chicken broth as we cooked along, and threw in a clove of garlic.

Our favorite dippables (cookables?) for our broth fondue were some chicken, beef, mushrooms (my favorite), red onion, and potato. Next time I may copy what Kristin did on Iowa Girl Eats  and try some tots or french fries. Bell pepper and zucchini can taste pretty good, too. Truthfully, whatever you feel like cooking up in the pot – try it. You won’t be disappointed (and if you are, just don’t make it next time).

Oh – I can’t forget about the sauces! We made a simple soy sauce/teriyaki/ginger/sriracha one, a horseradish-mayo sauce, some honey mustard, and some barbecue sauce. All were delicious – I made them up on the fly, but next time I think I’ll do a bit more internet research so I can make (and memorize!) some winners.

Fondue is great any time, and for any families whose members can be trusted with pointy objects. 😉

Do you ever fondue? What are your favorite things to fondue?

Superbowl 2014

In honor of Superbowl Sunday (I still don’t know who I’m rooting for tonight), here’s a few recipes you may wany to try this evening at your party for the Big Game:

This is the first year in a long time that either a) my husband doesn’t have to work, or b) we’re not going anywhere. We’re planning on Slingboxing the game (thanks to my father-in-law) and taking it easy. I’m personally looking forward to seeing Bruno Mars at halftime 🙂

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Steak Day

Today in our house, it is Browns Bye Week, which is also known as Steak Day. Since the family often gets together on Sundays to watch the Cleveland Browns play, it became a tradition to get together on the off-week and eat steak. It’s such a delicious & fun tradition and I’m glad to partake, even though I live in Michigan. Which reminds me…I need to go buy some steak!

Sorry things have been quiet around here. Truth be told, it’s because lately the meals I’ve made have been absolute fails. Totally not even blog-worthy. So, there you have it. It’s been sad and lame.

Hopefully this week I’ll get a few things that end up turning out better!

Christmas ’12: Beef Wellington

We had a very laid-back, quiet Christmas yesterday. Because of my husband’s work schedule, we were unable to travel down to Ohio to celebrate the holiday with our families. I will be traveling down tomorrow, a day late due to a blizzard – and thus Mike will be working and ‘baching it’ for a few days. Today will be spent cleaning up from the holiday, cooking lunches for Mike, and getting ready for my trip.

When work schedules and/or weather hinder us from travel, we always make an effort to have an enjoyable day and a dinner that is ‘fancier’ than usual. Mike’s idea this year was Beef Wellington. I know that I for one had never had this dish before, and I’m not sure that he had, either. The verdict? YUM! It was a success. Including the usage of liver pate. As weird as it sounds, it really added something significant to the dish. I grew up eating gooseliver pate as a kid (my dad is German, don’t judge!) so I wasn’t really too freaked out about purchasing it from the butcher.

We ate our beef wellington, made into two individual portions,  as part of a surf & turf meal (lobster was our surf) with mashed potatoes and asparagus. This was very filling, so we both saved half of our wellingtons for tonight’s dinner.

Individual Beef Wellington – adapted from Emeril Lagasse

First, make the Mushroom Duxelles:

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 10 oz button mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed & chopped fine (I used my food processor)
  • salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 2.5 tbsp dry white wine
  1. Heat the butter in a medium skillet. Add shallots & garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, salt, & pepper, and cook until all the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms begin to carmelize. The consistency almost becomes paste-like. 
  2. Add the wine & cook, deglazing the pan, until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat & cool before using.

For the Beef Wellington

  • 2 thick cuts of filet or beef tenderloin
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 slice liver pate, divided in half
  • Mushroom Duxelles
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • egg wash (1 large egg, beaten with 2 tsp water)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425*. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or foil sprayed with cooking spray.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet (I just used the same one that I made the mushrooms in). Season the filets with salt & pepper, and add to pan. Sear for 1 minute on each side, for a medium-rare beef. Remove from heat & set aside.
  3. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface, so that from it you can get two pieces that will successfully over your pieces of beef.
  4. Spread half of the mushroom mixture onto the pastry, followed by a portion of the pate. Top with the filet.
  5. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, coat the inside edges of the puff pastry with egg wash. Then, fold the pastry edges over so that everything is encased by the puff pastry.
  6. Place the wellingtons seam-sides down onto the baking sheet, and brush with egg wash.
  7. For medium-rare, bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving (this is a good time to finish preparing any sides).

 

I forgot to take a picture – but cut in half, they’d look something like this!

I am glad that we had made individual portions for this meal, so that we wouldn’t have a ton of leftovers, nor would we completely gorge ourselves during our Christmas meal. As I said before, we only made it through about half of our portions, since we had a few other things to eat with our meal. I plan on reheating this in the oven tonight, in a covered baking dish, so that it does not dry out.

This dish is filling, and indulgent – a perfect main dish for a special occasion.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

You may recall that we received a small pumpkin in our CSA in the last few weeks of its run. It sat outside on our stoop with our larger pumpkins & looked nice and pretty for October. After Halloween though, it became fair game for any human or animal to consume (we had one pumpkin fall victim to some sort of wild animal – it chewed a hole right through it!). Thus I decided to bring it into the house to see if we could bake something with it.

I followed Sarah’s directions on how to take apart & cook pumpkin. Instead of canning it, I put it into a plastic container, since I knew I would be using it within the week. Her directions made the pumpkin dissection easier than how I had done it before. I’m thankful that now I have the knowledge for processing pumpkin, and probably won’t ever have to buy canned pumpkin again if I can help it.

We used the pumpkin up in some pumpkin cookies; a team effort of both the Hubs and I.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies – adapted from Allrecipes.com

Cookies:

  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 small pie pumpkin, pureed (about 1 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Combine flour & spices; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter & sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, & vanilla. Beat until creamy. Gradually add in dry ingredients & mix well.
  3. Drop on cookie sheet in tablespoonfuls.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes. Makes quite a few cookies (I forgot to count)
  5. One the cookies have completely cooled, frost with icing:
    • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 1.5 tbsp milk
    • 1/2 tbsp butter
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • *Mix the ingredients together in a plastic baggie. Cut off the tip of one end – easy DIY icing bag!

Don’t store the cookies like this. The icing will melt away. Oops!

The house smelled absolutely heavenly while these were baking! I highly recommend these to anyone who wants to try cooking with pumpkin.

For the sake of our waistlines, Hubs brought one tub of cookies to work, and we kept the others. These were especially good – however, they only keep for about a week; after that, they start to dry out. Which in our house, usually means one thing: I didn’t eat nearly enough of them! 🙂