Sunday, November 30, 2014

Braised Beef Pappardelle

Happy Monday friends!  I hope everyone had a nice long weekend and had the opportunity to indulge in some delicious food.  I had a great time in Florida, although it was quite colder than I was expecting. Relaxing and spending time with family was so much fun, and returning home to two gorgeous trees just waiting to be decorated was the icing on the cake. 

I'm in full wintry-holiday spirit, and even after all of the food I ate last week, i've got decadent, rich, comfort food on the brain.  Decadent and rich doesn't even begin to describe the magic that is this braised beef pappardelle. This dish will positively warm you from the inside out.  Inspired by my favorite dish at a long-gone Wilmington restaurant, the Kitchen, this pappardelle is firing on all cylinders.  The beef is beyond tender, the sauce thick and velvety, and the flavors are that special kind of savory that you can't quite put your finger on.  I finally mastered the sauce after adding a parmesans rind, bunches of fresh herbs, and just a touch of tangy tomato paste. 

Don't be intimidated by the lengthy instructions.  Most of the cooking time (about 4 hours total) is hands-off.  The key is to slowly braise the beef in the oven until it practically falls apart when you look at it. 

* 2 lb. beef stew meat
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* 4 tbsp. butter, divided
* 2 onions, sliced
* 4 carrots, cut into chunks
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tbsp. tomato paste
* 4 tbsp. flour, divided
* 1 c. red wine (I used cabernet)
* 32 oz. beef stock
* 1 parmesan rind
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 bunch of herbs (I used 2 sprigs rosemary, 4 sprigs thyme)
* salt, pepper
*1 lb. pappardelle pasta

Preheat the oven to 325.  In a large dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter over medium high heat.  Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.  Working in batches, brown the meat on all side, being careful not to overcrowd the pan (or the meat will steam instead of brown).  Remove browned meat to a plate and set aside. 

Add onions and carrots to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until they just start to brown.  Add garlic to the pan and sauté until fragrant; 1 minute or so.  Add 1 tbsp. flour and tomato paste to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the wine to the pan and cook until thickened, 2 minutes or so.  Add beef stock, parmesan rind, bay leaf, and herbs, and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Transfer to the oven and cook for 3 to 3.5 hours, or until the meat is fork tender. Leave the remaining butter out so it can come to room temperature while the beef is braising. 

Remove the herbs from the pot.  The next step is to thicken the sauce.  Prepare a beurre manie - this is a mixture of equal parts butter and flour, used to thicken sauces, by combining 3 tbsp. flour and 3 tbsp. room temperature butter in a bowl.  Use a fork to mash the butter and flour together, ensuring they're totally incorporated. Use a strainer (I used a hand spider, but a colander works just as well) to drain the sauce from the solids (all of the solids will be added back to the pot - straining them out just makes it easier to create a thick, smooth sauce).  Heat the sauce over medium high heat, and whisk in the beurre manie (this makes a thick, rich sauce; for a thinner consistency, start with half the beurre manie).  Continue to whisk until smooth and the sauce has thickened.  Return the meat to the sauce and reduce heat to low until ready to serve. 

Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Stir cooked pasta into the sauce and serve.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


So I know I said  I was signing off for the week, but I had to come back for a hot minute and share this awesome giveaway!  If you already follow me on Bloglovin, Facebook, or Google Friend Connect, you already have a shot - just enter below, and discover some other great blogs as well!

Let's be honest, Nordstrom has something for everyone, whether you're working on your Christmas shopping or in the mood to treat yourself.  

Good luck! 

:::Brought to you by:::
 Becca // Shane // Nicole // Mary
Jamie // Samm // Magen // Kippy
Morgan // Katie // Cat // Lauren
Caley // Sarah  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Holiday Oyster Roast

Happy  Monday and happy Thanksgiving week!  If you, like many of us, suffer from a little post holiday cabin fever, consider hosting a little post-turkey-day Oyster Roast.

For this month's issue of Focus on the Coast, I teamed up with the owner's of Wilmington's famed Hieronymus Seafood to learn all about how to host the perfect oyster roast (yeah, I rhymed).  

Photos by Jason Armond for Focus the Coast

Photos by Jason Armond for Focus the Coast

Photos by Jason Armond for Focus the Coast

How beautiful did the pictures turn out?  Head on over to Focus on the Coast for some tips on everything from creating the perfect menu, to preparing and serving your oysters. 

I'm signing off for a week of gluttony and relaxation.  Cheers, and see you next week! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Menu

Is everyone ready for turkey day?  I know I am!  This year I'm heading to sunny Florida to spend the holiday with my Mom's side of the family.  I can't wait for a little warm weather, lots of turkey, naps, and good family fun. 

This year, I had my annual Friendsgiving fairly early so we could celebrate with my friend Stephanie one more time before she moved to Japan.  

I like to keep my menu pretty traditional. Here are a few of my turkey day faves:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Garlic-Herb Pull Apart Rolls

When I break out my bread maker, whip up a homemade sourdough, and enjoy the yummy smells wafting through my house as the dough rises and bakes, there's just nothing better. 

But let be honest, nobody has time for that on the regular.  Homemade bread is a special occasion/weekend project for this girl. 

These delicious pull apart rolls add a homemade twist to a store-bought staple.  Start with a canned biscuit, cut into quarters, and roll in a flavorful mixture of butter, olive oil, fresh herbs, and garlic, and even you might forget there's a canned biscuit in there.  These will take you all of three minutes to get in the oven, and the best part is no one has to know! 

* 1 can of refrigerated biscuits (I used Grands Butter Biscuits)
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* 1 tbsp. butter
* 1 tbsp. thyme, chopped
* 1 tbsp. rosemary, chopped
*1 tsp. garlic (1-2 cloves), minced
* salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.  Cut each biscuit into quarters and spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.  

In a skillet, combine butter and olive oil over medium heat.  When the butter has melted, add garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper, and sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant.  Remove from the heat.  Roll each quarter of dough into a ball, then add each ball to the pan of garlic oil.  Cover all sides of the dough, then add three dough balls to each muffin tin.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Autumn Bruschetta

I don't know if it's the bazaar-ly cold weather or the excessive Christmas ads on tv, but I find myself in the Christmas spirit already. I'm just itching to bring my holiday decorations down from the attic, and yesterday I even found myself slightly embarrassed that I still have a glass pumpkin shaped bowl full of gourds on my kitchen table.  

But wait…. Thanksgiving hasn't come yet!  It's still fall!  To adjust my seasonal confusion, I thought I'd make a nice fall dish.  I bring you: Autumn Bruschetta. 

Layers of sweet and savory flavors just taste like fall in one bite.  I pureed sweet roasted butternut squash with a bit of chicken stock and parmesan to enhance the flavors.  For the second layer, brown sugar caramelized onions.  And to top it off?  Tangy, savory bleu cheese.  

For a make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizer, prepare the squash puree and caramelized onions a few days in advance, and assemble on the big day.  

* 1 baguette, sliced
* 3 c. butternut squash, cubed
* 1/3 c. chicken stock
*2 tbsp. parmesan cheese
* 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
*1 tbsp. thyme
*1 tbsp. olive oil
*1 tsp. brown sugar
*3 oz. creamy blue cheese
*cooking spray (preferably olive oil)

Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange butternut squash  on a baking sheet and spray generously with cooking spray.  Season with salt and pepper and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden brown.  Set aside to let cool slightly before pureeing. 

To caramelize the onions, heat a sauté pan to medium heat and add the olive oil.  Add the onions to the pan and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until caramel in color (stir often and reduce heat to medium low if the onions start to brown quickly).  Season with salt, pepper, and add brown sugar and thyme. 

Add the sliced baguette to a sheet pan and toast in the 400 degree oven for 5 minutes, or until slightly dry and toasted.  

Puree the squash, chicken stock, and parmesan cheese together in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth. 

To assemble the bruschetta, spread the squash puree on each baguette slice, top with caramelized brown sugar onions and crumbled blue cheese.  Serve as is, or return to the oven for 3-4 minutes if you prefer the cheese to be melted.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that has a bad rap, and I won't lie, I get it.  If they aren't properly cooked, they can have a bitter, harsh flavor.  That's why I like to cook them with bacon, or something equally as delicious. 

I've been seeing a lot of shaved brussels sprouts salads lately, and i've been eager to try a recipe out myself.  If you're not a brussels sprouts fan, this salad just might win you over.  The thinly sliced, raw brussels sprouts have a very mild flavor and a wonderful texture.  When paired with my tangy cider vinaigrette, sweetened with chewy craisins, and topped with pecans for a little crunch?  It's down right irresistible 

With it's bright colors and fall flavors, this is a great addition to the Thanksgiving table, or any Fall meal at that.  Next time I make it I might try shredding in a green apple or cabbage - the possibilities are endless! 

* 1 lb. brussels sprouts
*1/4 c. craisins
*1/4 c. pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped

*1 (heaping) tsp. whole grain mustard
* 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
* 3 tbsp. olive oil
* salt, pepper
*1/4 tsp. sugar

Prepare the dressing by whisking together all ingredients.  Set aside. 

Use the shredder blade on your food processor to finely shred the brussels sprouts (many grocery stores sell shredded brussels sprouts if you don't have a food processor).  Toss the brussels sprouts with craisins, nuts, and half the dressing.  Add more dressing as needed to evenly coat everything.  Set aside for ten minutes to let the flavors marry and serve. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

If I had to choose a culinary idol, Ina Garten would be the one to beat.  That woman is just a class act.  Her style of cooking is elegant, classic, and not too fussy, which I love.  

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of her new cookbook, Make it Ahead. Fortunately for me (while i'm waiting for Christmas!), this month's Food Network Magazine included a few of her all-star make ahead recipes.  My mouth just watered when I saw her Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes, and I knew I couldn't wait to try the recipe.  

Though I adjusted the recipe slightly (that's what happens when you decide what you're making for dinner after you already went to the store), the results were creamy, with just a slight tang from the goat cheese, savory, and delicious.  I whipped up a batch of Beef Burgundy and served it over the potatoes- the perfect fall dinner. 

This recipe is inspired by Ina Garten's make ahead Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes.  I adjusted the recipe to a smaller portion, and also altered  the ingredients based on what I had on hand.  Her recipes says you can prepare it up to the baking point, refrigerate it for up to three days, and bake when ready. 

Ingredients (Serves 4):
* 1.5 lb. yukon gold potatoes, chopped (I left the skin on, but peel the potatoes if you prefer a very smooth consistency)
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
*3 oz. plain goat cheese, room temperature
*3 tbsp. butter, divided
* 1/3 c. sour cream
* 1/2 c. half and half
* 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese, grated
* 1 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 375.  Add the potatoes sand minced garlic to a pot, season with salt, and add enough water to just cover the potatoes.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook unit the potatoes are fork tender (20-25 minutes). 

Drain the potatoes and return to the pot.  Add 2 tablespoons of butter, sour cream, half and half, and crumble in the goat cheese.  Cover the pot for a minute or so, so the butter and cheese will begin to melt.  Mash the potatoes with a potato masher until smooth.  Transfer the potatoes to a small casserole dish and smooth out the top.  Use your fingers to break up the remaining tablespoon of butter and dot over the top.  Top with parmesan cheese and bake until golden; 30-40 minutes.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Grilled Steak Salad

Do you ever think you might just turn into a big leafy green if you eat one more boring salad?  I sure do, especially since I've been upping my produce game lately.  I've made a bad (healthy, but boring) habit of eating the same salad every day for lunch at work, and it's so much harder to eat a cold salad when it's chilly outside. 

Monday night, I planned to eat my Potato Leek soup with a little side salad.  Instead, I ended up cleaning out my fridge and produce bowl, and whipping up this delicious, warm Grilled Steak Salad. 

The cool lettuce in contrast to the warm steak, grilled onions and tomatoes, sweet balsamic, and creamy cheese is a real winner.  I used a tangy garlic and herb Boursin cheese since I had it on hand, but goat cheese or blue cheese would also work wonders. 

Ingredients (serves 2):
*1 lb. steak (I used a thin cut top sirloin)
*1/2 onion, thinly sliced
*1 tomato, quartered
*1/4 c. crumbled garlic herb Boursin cheese
*balsamic reduction
*olive oil cooking spray
*romaine lettuce   
*salt, pepper

Preheat a grill pan over medium heat.  Spray generously with olive oil cooking spray and add onions and tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook until the tomatoes have light grill marks and the onions are translucent.  Set aside.

Pat the steak dry with a paper towel. Season generously with salt and pepper, add more cooking spray to the grill pan, and then add the steak.  Cook to your preference (for my thin cut steak, I cooked it three minutes per side).  

To serve, slice the steak thinly against the grain.  Spray the lettuce very lightly with olive oil spray (you can skip this step if you prefer - the balsamic reduction adds lots of flavor).  Top the lettuce with steak, onions, tomatoes, crumbled Boursin, and drizzle lightly with balsamic reduction.  Serve warm.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

Well it's official: soup season is upon us!  It's so bizarre to me that after an exceptionally warm October, November first showed up and brought along the cool temperatures with it.  I'm pretty excited for the changing seasons, but I do wish there was more of a transition.  The fact that it already snowed in the mountains of NC is making me nervous - I feel like this year will be a cold one! 

But for now, I'm loving the crisp fall air, and thinking up some delicious  meals that will keep me warm from the inside out.  

This Potato Leek soup makes the perfect meal for a cool night.  I used light sour cream in the recipe, so it's actually surprisingly light for such a hearty, creamy soup.  

You will need an immersion blender for this recipe.  I've said it before, and i'll say it again - an immersion blender is an absolute must for soups.  It's still one of my all-time favorite kitchen tools and I use mine regularly! 

*1 tbsp. butter
*1 tbsp. olive oil
*1.5 lb. yukon gold potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes), cubed
*2 leeks
*1 garlic clove, minced
* 32 oz. chicken stock
*4 oz. (1/2 c.) sour cream
*salt, pepper
* chives for garnish

First prepare the leeks.  Halve them lengthwise and since them thoroughly under running water (dirt tends to hide in the nooks and crannies).  Roughly chop the white and light green parts. 

Heat a stock pot over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil.  Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 7-8 minutes, or until soft.  Add the garlic and sauté one additional minute.  Add the chicken stock and increase the heat to high.  When the stock is boiling, add the potatoes and reduce the heat to medium low.  Simmer, loosely covered (keep the lid ajar), for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth.  Stir in sour cream until it is completely incorporated.  Serve with another dollop of sour cream and chopped chives.  Enjoy!