Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Recipe: Boneless Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce

I’m not sure where my recent obsession came from for The Pioneer Woman-Ree Drummond, but she has been my inspiration lately. I have been on her Web site daily, and my mom is letting me borrow the book “From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, A Love Story by Ree Drummond’, which I can’t put down. My son was given Ree Drummond’s children’s book, ‘Charlie the Ranch Dog’ for his 5th birthday and I adore the illustrations. I saw a brief video clip of Ree’s new cooking show and was wishing I actually had a TV so I could watch it, but then I probably wouldn’t get anything else done because I would be so hooked on watching The Food Network and favorite cooking shows, so therefore we don’t have a TV! I can’t wait to get a copy of her cookbook, ‘The Pioneer Woman’s Cookbook- Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl’ either.
One of the recipes I found from The Pioneer Women’s blog, that looks amazing, are the Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce. Of course I never seem to completely follow the recipe exactly, so instead of using short ribs with the bone-in like Ree did, I used boneless short ribs. Instead of using thyme like Ree did, I used Herbes de Provence, and instead of a can of whole tomatoes, well like Ree did, I used a can of diced tomatoes because that is what I had in my pantry and wanted to use up. Here is my own spin on the recipe.
Boneless Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce
5 boneless short ribs, cut in half crosswise
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup baby carrots, sliced
½ white onion, chopped
3 heads of garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup red cooking wine
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 pound fettuccini
Finely shredded Italian cheese, for garnish
Fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a pan with a drizzle of olive oil, turn on high heat.

Sprinkle short ribs with salt and pepper, to taste.

With tongs, place each short rib in the smoking hot pan and brown on each side for 1 minute.

Remove short ribs and place in an ovenproof dish.

Turn heat down to medium-high and add carrots to pan.

Sauté for 3 minutes stirring often, then add in onions and garlic and mix together till carrots and onions are soft, about 2 minutes.

Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, Herbes de Provence, and red pepper to onions.

Mix well and let the sauce simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomato mix over ribs and cover tightly with tin foil.

Place in preheated oven for 1 ½ hours.

Bring a pot of water to boil, add the fettuccini, and boil till noodles are soft.

Place noodles on bottom of serving dish, then add tomato mix (not all of it, as you will have leftover sauce), and place short ribs on top, sprinkle ribs with cheese, and add some fresh parsley to the dish.

Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTE: You can use the leftover tomato sauce to make spaghetti!
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Monday, August 29, 2011

Random Post: Things I have learned about blogging

When I started this blog in March 2009 I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just got this idea to start a blog and have taken it one posting at a time. Although I feel like I have come a long ways, I feel like I have a ways to go.  When I first started posting, I would find a recipe I wanted to try, cook it, post the recipe, add the picture, and site the recipe if it wasn’t my own, and that was that. Now, I am completely redoing my site; adding a section about gardening and the outdoors, my crafty things, a new recipe search, and adding my own voice more.  A few things I have learned about blogging along the way.
Be yourself. Write like you are talking to your best friend. I am very quiet natured in person and usually not real wordy while blogging either, but I’m working on adding my own voice more.
I need to take a photography class. I am not a photographer by any means and really not too fond of taking pictures, to be honest. In my photos, the lighting doesn’t seem to be right to capture the yumminess of my food, the angle seems off, the photo comes out blurry, or I just completely forget to take a picture of the final dish and then I remember after the food has been devoured. Where is my mother-in-law when I need her to take the pictures?!
Blog Often.  When I first started, I would post up to 2-3 posts a day. As my life became more insane, the blogging slowed down and eventually was neglecting for months, specifically while I was planning my wedding and what seemed like I was spending every minute of my evenings making my wedding isle décor called kissing balls. Now I have recently been inspired, I understand how important it is to blog often.
Write about varied topics. Since this blog was created mainly to write about food, I do like to mix it up a little and throw in a quote, a kitchen tip, write about a restaurant I had just eaten at, or just whatever I feel like writing about. I just want to make it fun!
Re-read what I just typed. This can be a challenge for me since I know what I mean when I write, but do others understand what I mean when they read it? With the new design of my blog I am in the process of working on, I am embarrassed to see some mistakes I have in recipes: “Preheat the oven to 3275 degrees”. I didn’t know my oven went that high, or does she mean 325 degrees?, or wait, is that 375 degrees?!” There is a big difference there.
I don’t know what to write about aka writer’s block. Most of the time this is very true, but I still need to sit down and post something. As I mentioned previously, I neglected my blog while planning my wedding when I could have been posting things about the wedding planning process. I recently found some inspiration, so on I go with the blogging!
Value my readers. Although I don’t know who most of you are that read my blog, I appreciate your comments and taking the time to read my posts. You are appreciated more than I let you know.
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Recipe: Simple Breakfast Croissant

I am not a breakfast person but I LOVE eating breakfast food. For sure I have to have my coffee in the morning with cream and sugar. I definately enjoy having breakfast for dinner. I really don't have time to make breakfast in the morning with my crazy schedule, especially a big breakfast so that is why I like to take the time in the evening to make a big dinner-breakfast for my family.

Tonight I made some easy breakfast sandwiches. I made some shredded hash browns on the side cooked in butter, and a fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries) salad. For "dessert" I made some cinnamon rolls.

4 butter croissants, sliced lengthwise, toasted, if desired


Honey ham, thinly sliced (I just used the lunch meat packages)

8 slices of Bacon, figure 2 slices of bacon per sandwich

Shredded Mexican style cheese

4 Eggs, scrambled

Take each croissants and slice them in half lengthwise and toast if you like it that way.

Add enough mayo to cover each slice of croissant, or to your desired liking.

Take a small pan, add some butter and turn it up to medium-high heat.

Add the honey ham and fry for a few minutes on each side; remove and keep warm.

Cook bacon until crispy, and break each strip in half.

Using the same pan from cooking the ham, add a little bit of butter and cook the egg, preferrably scrambled. (If you fry the egg with a soft and runny yolk, beware when you take a bite- the yolk will run everywhere and can make a real disaster! Trust me I do know about this.)

To assemble the breakfast croissant: take the bottom half of croissant and add mayo, slices of ham, then the bacon, half a handfull of shredded cheese, egg, and put the other half of the croissant on top.

Serve immediately while hot.

Makes 4 servings; 1 sandwich per person

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Random Post: Trader Joe's Raffle: Part 1

I love to shop at Trader Joes! They have some very unique items, but it is always fresh and have never been disappointed during my shopping experience. I don't go too often but my husband and I love the Sea Salt Pita Chips with hummus for a snack! YUM!

At every register there is a small container and a roll of tickets. If you bring your own bag for the groceries you can put your name and phone number on a ticket and drop it in the container at the register knowing it will be never be drawn since they have 8 registers and all the buckets full with tickets from the week, proabably a good couple hundred tickets to draw from.

Well this last Friday I had received a message from our local Trader Joes saying they had drawn MY name for the week! I was so excited that it could actually be ME! I went to the store as soon as I could and was handed a gift card for $10, which isn't a lot but, it is $10! I can definately put that to good use.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Random Picks: What I Love About My Kitchen!

A few months ago I came across an article that was titled, "What do you love most about your kitchen?" I often dream of my future kitchen and the features I one day look forward to having but this article got me thinking about my current kitchen. Although we currently rent and can't call this kitchen "mine" there are things I do love about it:

  • It is centrally located in the house.

  • There is tons of wide counter space.

  • I love watching my husband cook the bacon or hamburger meat and still have plenty of room to prep the rest of the dinner together.

  • There is plenty of cupboard space to hold all my necessary kitchen utencils and equipment.

  • It has all the necessities I need to make a scrumptious meal.

  • I have a view out my kitchen window into my backyard right to where all the bird feeders are and can enjoy watching the birds come and go.

  • I can open the kitchen window and talk to my amazing husband while he BBQs on the deck as I prep the other side dishes inside.

  • I have a colorful view of the flowers on my deck and can enjoy them all summer long!

  • It is square and just the perfect size kitchen.
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Recipe: Greek Salad

One of my most favorite things to eat is salad. Just about every dinner I make a salad but it tends to be the quick green salad with a few toppings and a jar of our favorite dressing, either Bleu cheese, or Ceasar dressing. I came across this recipe and it looked so good I couldn't wait to try this salad. I have had Greek salads before and love them. The result of this dressing was delicious!
This recipe came from the Cook's Country April/May 2008 issue.

1 1/4 cups crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons plain whole-milk yogurt (I used a Plain Greek yogurt)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives

2 romaine hearts, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 8 cups)

salt and pepper

Process 1/2 cup feta, yogurt, oregano, garlic, vinegar, and oil in blender until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Combine dressing and onion in large bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.

Add remaining feta, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, and romaine to bowl with dressing mixture and toss to combine.

Season with salt and pepper.


Serves 4 to 6.
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Recipe: Mashed Potato Casserole

We often eat boneless skinless chicken breasts a couple times a week. I like to have our chicken, potatoes, a vegetable, green salad and/or a fruit salad. I came across this mashed potato casserole and wanted to see the results with this chicken dinner. Since there are only two adults and two small children in the household I cut the recipe in half and there was still tons leftover. The end results of the mashed potato casserole were "mmmmmm.....that is really good!"

This recipe is the full version as printed in the Cook's County December/January 2008 issue.

4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons salt

4 large eggs

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring potatoes and water to cover by 1 inch to boil in large pot over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Heat half-and-half, broth, butter, garlic, mustard, and salt in saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth, about 5 minutes. Keep warm.

Drain potatoes and transfer to large bowl.

With electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat potatoes, slowly adding half-and-half mixture, until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.

Scrape down bowl; beat in eggs 1 at a time until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Fold in chives.

Transfer potato mixture to a greased 2-quart baking dish.

Bake until potatoes rise and begin to brown, about 35 minutes.

Let cool 10 minutes.


NOTE: The mashed potatoes will look very soupe when they are poured into the casserole dish. They will firm up and rise in the oven.

For better browing and an impressive presentation, use a fork to make a peaked design on top of the potato casserole.

MAKE AHEAD: The baking dish with the potatoes can be covered with plastic and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, let the casserole sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Increase baking time by 10 minutes.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Random Picks: Garbage Can Composting

Lately I have really been wanting to start composting. It seems like every chance I get I am outside working in the yard trying to do little 'mini makeovers' in some areas of the yard. We have lots of weeds and wanted to improve the dirt in our garden area. It also helps on cutting down on the amount of trash we have.

I checked some books out on composting at the library and have spent quite a bit of time visting Web sites about composting and how to do it and techniques. I didn't want to build a permanent compost structure and couldn't quite justify spending literally hundreds of dollars on a composting bin so I decided to go with the basic trash can method. I went to The Home Depot and purchased a black Rubbermaid 32 gallon trash can with a lid. I also got a small pitchfork (for turning the compost). I left the store paying a total of $40. My dad drilled about 16 half inch holes in the can with a drill and got two pieces of wood (to set the trash can on so the bottom has air circulation). Simple as that.

I have been collecting kitchen scraps under my kitchen sink for a few days. I got a box of bio bags, purchased a $2 bathroom sized trash can at Goodwill and keep the can under my kitchen sink for easy access to throw decent composting scraps in.

Tonight I started my first pile. I ripped up some old newspaper, threw in my bio bag fill of goodies, added some recently pulled greens from the yard and a small shovelful of dirt, added a little bit of water (enough to get it damp) and closed the lid. I will check on it in a few days, turn it over, maybe add to it some more, and just let it do its thing.

I'm excited to see this process the kind of 'black gold' I get from it!

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