Stuffed Pepper Soup


Category: , , , , , ,

Ah, Stuffed Pepper Soup.  I haven't had this in a few years, and have been craving it like crazy.  Unfortunately, the local lunch place that sold my favorite Stuffed Pepper Soup went out of business a few years ago.  While I'm still sad they are gone, I am quite happy I have a recipe to make this soup myself now!  I was especially happy to see this recipe included rice, as I remember the local lunch place would serve their version over white rice.  So delicious!

My craving happened to come at an appropriate time, as I have a ton of peppers coming out of my garden (the last of this years produce besides spinach).  I bumped up the vegetables to make each serving more filling since I wasn't serving anything along side.  Not only did this make a filling, comforting meal, it was a cinch to throw together on a weeknight.

Here is what you'll need:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups water
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 28 oz canned plum tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Season ground beef with salt and pepper, add to pot and cook until brown.  Drain excess fat.

Add remaining ingredients to pot, stir and break up tomatoes using a wooden spoon.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until peppers are tender.  Serves 4.
    Source: Taste of Home

    What's Baking: Sweet Potato Bread


    Category: , ,

    This month's What's Baking is hosted by Angela from The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen.  The theme she chose was Fall Flavors.  My inspiration for Fall Flavors was Thanksgiving.

    Have you started thinking about Thanksgiving?  I have, mostly because I'm shocked I haven't received a call from my Dad to make plans.  Why am I shocked?  Because he usually call no less than 5 times to plan, what I don't know.  We eat the same.thing.every.year, and we each bring the same dishes too.  At any rate I'll report back to you how many phone calls occur to plan for Thanksgiving.

    While this will not be served at our Thanksgiving, remember we don't vary, it does includes sweet potatoes, which we will eat.  This would be a great dessert to serve at your Thanksgiving or any Fall celebration.  Generally, I would consider this a dessert too, however, Sweet Potato Bread makes a great side for the Beef Bourguignon we ate early this week.

    This wasn't my planned What's Baking post, but it served as a great alternate.  You see, my original post was supposed to be Herb and Apple Cranberry stuffing, and well, that post will have to wait for another time since the photo was ridiculously unrecognizable.  The only reason I'm mentioning this is in case you're looking for a great Thanksgiving stuffing.  My photo was horrid, but the stuffing itself was very bright and flavorful!  I'm not a stuffing lover, I actually skip in on Thanksgiving (so I can eat more pie), but I would make, and eat, this stuffing again. 

    Here is what you'll need for the Sweet Potato Bread:
    • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
    • 1/2 cup canola oil
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 1 tsp vanilla sugar (omitted, I did not have any)
    Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

    In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and powder, and salt.

    In a separate large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sweet potatoes, oil and water.

    Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined, do not overmix.

    Spoon mixture into loaf pan.  Top with vanilla sugar.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

    Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.  Serves 12.

    Source: Penzeys Spices November 2011 Catalog, pg 53

    Beef Bourguignon


    Category: , , ,

    I had so much fun participating in my first recipe swap that I went ahead and signed up for another one!  This time the theme was soup or stew, and I was given Beef Bourguignon submitted by Nichole at The Cookaholic Wife.  This was another great challenge for me because I don't know if I would have made it had it not been assigned to me.  I've always perceived this recipe to be extremely time consuming and complicated, however, that's just not true.

    I was a little apprehensive when I got half way cooking and opened the bottle of red wine.  This was a bottle that was gifted to me, and I had no idea what varietal it was since the label is in Russian.  It smelled and tasted a bit sweet, which made me panic, but not for long because I began pouring it in and hoped for the best.  Then I drank a glass of wine.

    The good news is, it worked!  Or maybe I just assume it worked because I don't know how the stew is supposed to taste!?  Anyhow, JR commented that it was really good so I'll take that as another sign it worked.

    If you've been putting off making this because it seems a little intimidating or time consuming, put those thoughts out of your mind and go ahead and try it.  My only advice would be to save it for a weekend when you have more time.  And be sure to head over to A Taste of Home Cooking for the Recipe Swap Round-up of Soups.

    Here is what you'll need:
    • 6 slices thick bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces 
    • 2 lbs beef cubes/stew meat, cut into 1 inch chunks
    • salt and pepper
    • 4 carrots, peeled and coined
    • 2 onions, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
    • 1/2 bottle red wine
    • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
    • 2 cups beef broth
    • 1 tsp thyme
    • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 6-8 pearl onions
    • 8 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
    • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour 
    Preheat oven to 250F.

    In a Dutch oven preheated over medium-high heat, add bacon and cook until browned.  Remove from pot and set aside.

    Season beef and add a portion to the bacon fat.  Sear meat on all sides, then remove from pot and set aside.  Repeat in batches with remaining meat.

    Add carrots and onions to the pot, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.  Add garlic to vegetables, stir and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.

    Add beef, bacon, wine, tomato paste, beef broth and thyme to the pot.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Cover pot and place it on the middle rack in the oven.  Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

    15 minutes before the pot is ready to come out of the oven, heat butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add onions and mushrooms and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes.

    Remove pot from oven and place on the stove over medium heat.  Add onion and mushrooms to pot and bring to a boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

    In a small bowl, combine flour with a large scoop of liquid from the stew.  Whisk until thickened and well combined.  Add another scoop of liquid to the bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add to the pot of stew and stir until well combined.  Allow the stew to cook another 10-15 minutes until thickened.  Serves 6.
      Source: Ina Garten as seen on The Cookaholic Wife

      Choux Pastry


      Category: ,

      I'm pretty proud of these little pastries!  When I was given the profiterole recipe for the recipe swap I was initially overwhelmed, but I knew I needed to take on the challenge.  I didn't know where to find the pastry nearby, so I went ahead and took on the challenge to make them as well.
      It really wasn't much of a challenge, I followed the directions exactly and had no issues at all.  These have minimal ingredients, so I'm going out on a limb here and pretending I saved myself a bunch of money by making them myself.  You know the fancy name adds a few dollars to the price! 

      I want to caution you, as with any recipe, read the instructions all the way through before starting!  I should know better, but still I did not do this and as a result missed a complete step near the end. 

      Here is what you'll need:
      • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
      • 1/4 teaspoon granulated white sugar
      • 1/8 teaspoon salt
      • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
      • 1/4 cup water
      • 1 large eggs, lightly beaten
      • 1 large egg  
      • 1/8 teaspoon salt
      Preheat oven to 400F, and make sure rack is in the middle.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

      In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar and salt.  Set aside.   

      In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add butter and water.  Bring to a boil.  Remove pan from heat and add dry ingredients.  Using a wooden spoon, stir quickly until dough forms a ball.

      Place dough in stand mixer and beat on low until it cools to warm (I watched for the steam to dissappear).  Add 1 egg and continue to mix until combined.  The dough will now be sticky.

      Using 2 spoons, scoop out dough and drop 6 mounds onto the baking sheet leaving plenty of space between each one.  

      In a small bowl, beat remaining egg and salt until combined.  Using a pastry brush, brush egg mixture over each scoop of dough.  

      Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 30-40 minutes (I took mine out at 35 minutes) or until golden brown on the outside and dry inside when split in half.  Turn the oven off, prop the door open and leave tray in oven another 10-15 minutes (I completely skipped this step because I didn't read all the way through, and they were fine!).

      Remove from oven and finish cooling on a rack.  Serves 6.

      Source: Joy of Baking 

        Pumpkin Profiteroles


        Category: ,

        A cooking message board that I participate in does a recipe swap every few weeks.  The theme this round is Pumpkin / Apple.  I decided to join the swap this round to expand my horizons a bit and hopefully challenge myself by exposing myself to recipes I may not normally make due to my preference or skill level.

        I'm actually a bit embarrassed, because when I received my swap recipe from Coleen I didn't know exactly what a profiterole was.  I knew it was a dessert, but I had no clue what it really was.  That was until I did a quick Google search, and then I got really excited because of course I've seen these before and drooled over them in the baker's case!

        I have no idea where to purchase the pastry shells, so I decided to go ahead and make them myself.  Of course when I saw this Joy of Baking recipe, I knew I'd have to include the chocolate ganache too.  Seriously, I couldn't wait to take a bite of the finished product.

        While this recipe looks like a lot of work, it's fairly uncomplicated and I'm so glad that I made the pastry vs. trying to hunt it down.  I should point out that there is quite a bit of inactive cooking time for the components, so be sure you give yourself enough time if you plan to make these.

        One last note, I didn't realize that I was out of brown sugar, so I went ahead and substituted Splenda Brown Sugar Blend and it seemed to work out fine.  These tasted very decadent, and were so good I ate one for breakfast! :)  Enjoy!

        Be sure to head over to A Taste of Home Cooking for the Apple / Pumpkin Roundup.

        Here is what you'll need:

        For the Filling:
        • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
        • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend)
        • 1 large eggs
        • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
        • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
        • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
        • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
        • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
        • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
        • 1/8 tsp salt
        • 4 oz. mascarpone cheese
        For the Ganache:

        • 2 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
        • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
        • 1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter
        • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract 
        Preheat oven to 350F.

        To Make Filling: 

        Using a stand mixer, mix pumpkin and sugar until well combined and smooth.  Add egg, lemon juice and spices, and continue mixing until well combined.  Add mascarpone and mix until mixture is well combined and smooth.

        Pour filling into loaf pan.  Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes.

        Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Once cool, scoop out of pan and place in a pastry bag.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

        To Make Ganache:

        Just before serving, chop chocolate and place in mixing bowl.

        In a small saucepan, heat butter and cream over medium heat.  Once the mixture barely comes to a boil, remove from heat and pour liquid over chocolate.  Whisk chocolate until well combined.

        To Assemble:  

        Slice pastry shells in half.  Pipe filling into pastry shells.  Drizzle with ganache.  Serves 6.

        Sources: Does Not Cook Well With Others (filling) and Joy of Baking (pastry and ganache)

        Italian Beef Stew


        Category: , , , , , ,

        Generally, I make stew in the crockpot.  However, recently I've heard a lot of debate about the crockpot leaving food tasteless.  So I decided to test it out for myself by making this in a Dutch oven.  I'm here to report that this stew was WAY better made on the stovetop, and my husband agreed (he said this was a 10!).  Not only was the flavor sharp, the vegetables were tender, but still intact with nice texture.  

        This stew was a great end to a busy, cool weekend.  We paired it with croissants, and an MLB playoff game.  We are both excited that there was plenty leftover for lunch during the week. 

        Here is what you'll need:
        • 6 Tbsp olive oil
        • 1 1/4 b beef stew meat cut into 1 in. chunks
        • 1/4 cup flour
        • salt and pepper
        • 1 large onion, diced
        • 1/2 leek, diced
        • 1 small stack celery, sliced
        • 2 small carrots, peeled and sliced
        • 1 small parsnip, peeled and sliced
        • 1 small purple top turnip, peeled and diced
        • 4 red potatoes, diced 
        • 2 cloves garlic, minced
        • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
        • 2 beef bouillon cubes
        • 28 oz. canned plum tomatoes, including juice
        • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
        • 1 tsp oregano
        • 1 bay leaf
        Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  In a small bowl combine flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Add 1/2 stew meat to the bowl, coating the meat with flour.  Add to Dutch oven, cook until browned on all sides, stirring with a wooden spoon as needed.  Remove meat to a plate and set aside.  Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to Dutch oven, repeat coating and cooking remaining meat.  Remove meat and set aside.

        Add remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil to Dutch oven.  Add onion, leek and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly browned.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add carrots, parsnip, turnip, potatoes and garlic, stir and cook until garlic is fragrant.

        Add beef broth, bouillon, tomatoes and spices. Stir, break up tomatoes with the spoon and scrape bottom of Dutch oven to release the brown bits.  Add beef, stir, and cover.  Reduce temp to low and cook 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender and sauce has thickened.  Serves 6.

        Source: Adventures in My Kitchen

        Pennsylvania Dutch Brownies


        Category: , ,

        How is it that today is the last day of September?  This year is just flying by and it's making me a little sad.  Sad because that means my nephew's next birthday is just around the corner.  I know I should be happy, but he is growing up too quickly!  It's been amazing to watch him grow, and I so look forward to each time I see him.

        A week or so ago JR and I went to visit him and his parents for the day.  We brought Italian Drip Beef for lunch and wanted to take along dessert as well.  Generally, cookies or brownies go well with this family.  However, as I may have mentioned before, I do not like making cookies.  I tend to go for bar recipes because they don't require too much babysitting, nor do they require multiple batches.

        I initially picked a peanut butter blondie recipe from an old magazine, but then I realized it made 2-13x9 pans.  Cutting down the recipe wasn't gong to be easy since it called for 3 eggs.  So I abandoned this idea and started searching through cookbooks.

        I came across this interesting brownie recipe.  Not only did I find the ingredients interesting, the directions were a bit different too, and easy.  You cook these on the stovetop, no mixer is required.  Do you see a pattern here?  I know, I was being lazy, but in the end I was so glad I decided on this recipe.

        The result was a really unique, spicy, slightly chocolatey brownie. They are delicious.  So if you are looking for something new to take to your next gathering, go ahead and make these.  You won't be dissapointed.

        Here is what you'll need:
        • 4 Tbsp butter
        • 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
        • 1/4 cup molasses
        • 2 large eggs
        • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
        • 1 tsp ground ginger
        • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
        • 1/2 tsp baking soda
        • 1/2 tsp salt
        • 1 cup plus 2 tsp sugar
        • 1 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
        Preheat oven to 375F.  Grease 13 x 9 pan, set aside.

        Melt butter and chocolate in a 4-qt saucepan over low heat.  

        Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in molasses.  Then whisk in eggs, whisking constantly and quickly so they don't scramble.

        Stir in flour, ginger, cloves, baking soda, salt, 1 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon with a wooden spoon until just combined.

        Spread batter evenly in pan, place in oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

        Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.

        When you remove the pan from the oven, immediately sprinkle with sugar cinnamon blend.

        Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.  Serves 24 (more or less depending on how big or small you slice).