Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cold Night Beef Dinner

It is freezing cold.  I mean frost bite and negative temperatures cold.  Last night the temp was dropping and because of the cold, I wanted to make a really warm dinner for the family.  All day long I was thinking of recipes that I could make and then it hit me, I could make a beef stew.  That would warm the house and our tummies!

I did not want to make my normal beef stew, which is an Irish stew that I only make on St. Patrick's Day.  I did a little online research and found this delicious recipe from Cooking Light.  I made some changes to the recipes, but the inspiration came from the Cooking Light recipe.  It fit the bill and will now will become part of our winter recipe rotation. 

Here is my version of the recipe. 
Beef Daube Provencal
3 tablespoons olive oil
13 cloves of crushed garlic
3 lbs of stew meat
1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup red wine
2 cups carrots
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon mined fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
3 cups cooked egg noodles
1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Heat dutch oven over low heat and add olive oil.  Let oil warm up and then add the crushed garlic.  Let the garlic cook for a few minutes until you start to smell the garlic.  Stir the garlic occasionally, to prevent burning.  Once garlic is fragrant, remove the garlic with a spoon and set aside.  You will need it later. 
3.  Increase heat of the pan and add the stew meat.  Season with some salt and pepper.  Brown all side of the meat.  When all meat is brown, remove from pan and set aside.  I used the same bowl as the garlic. 
4.  Add wine to pan (I used Merlot) and bring to a boil.  Stir frequently and scrap pan to remove the delicious brown flavorful bits from the meat.  Add the garlic, beef, salt, pepper, carrots, onion, beef broth, tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, gloves, diced tomatoes and bay leaves.  Bring everything to a boil. 
5.  Cover and bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours and 15 minutes, or until the meat is super tender.  Once finished cooking, set aside.  Cook the noodles.
6.  Serve with the noodles or over the noodles, your choice!
This meal was delicious and flavorful.  As it cooked, the smell carried throughout the entire house.  The beef was so tender, it fell apart with the fork.  The cloves added a savory taste.  I am sure the left overs from dinner will taste even better, as the flavors will marry together even more! 
To follow this delicious beef dinner, I made homemade hand apple pies with homemade caramel sauce.  Both hit the sweet spot after a main course full of deep flavor.  I will share the recipe soon!
What is your favorite cold weather meal?  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Snow Day Hot Chocolate

There is nothing like a snow day to put you in the mood for hot chocolate!  Last week we had a snow day (actually, more like a cold day because of the negative temperature) and enjoyed staying inside in our cozy pajamas.  I do not think my daughter got out of her jammies at all!

I wanted to make a special treat for the kids and I knew just the thing-homemade hot chocolate.  In a pinch, the instant kind is fine.  But when you have time to make your own from scratch, it makes all the difference in the world.   There is nothing like homemade hot chocolate to warm your heart and soul on a snowy or freezing cold day.

snow day 
Hot Chocolate

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
Dash salt salt
4 cups milk 
3/4 tsp real vanilla extract
½ tsp of cinnamon plus a couple healthy dashes
handful of marshmallows

Pour the milk into a sauce pan over low heat. Warm the milk slowly, but do not let it come to a boil.  
After heating the milk for two to three minutes, add the cocoa powder and sugar into the warmed milk and whisk.  I actually combined the sugar and cocoa powder together in a bowl before adding it to the heated milk.  Continually whisk the milk, sugar and cocoa powder mixture together until creamy and smooth.  Once the mixture is smooth add the vanilla extract, a dash of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder.  Continue to whisk occasionally so the powder does not sink to the bottom and separate.  When the milk is hot (to your desired temperature), pour it into your favorite mugs and top with marshmallows.  Add a dash of cinnamon on top for added flavor.  
This recipe is quick and easy, which is one reason why it is a go-to in our house.  Another reason is because of the creamy chocolatey deliciousness mixed with the little kick of cinnamon...yum.

With your mug of hot chocolate in your hand, go sit in your favorite chair and snuggle with your favorite blanket!  Do you like my mug?  A Christmas gift from my husband.
What is your favorite snow day recipe?