Thursday, December 31, 2020

Slow Cooker Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs and Air Fryer Asparagus

Happy New Year. I think everyone has the same feeling about the year coming to an end.

A woman I work with gave me a recipe similar to the one I used. I could not find the recipe she gave me which is why I went with this recipe. I have to tell you that the aroma in the house was intoxicating. The meat fell off the bone and the sauce was delicious. Of course, we ended up with way too much sauce.

The recipe came from MidWest Foodie Blog.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 lbs. bone-in short ribs
1 onion, diced
2 cups sliced celery
2 cups sliced carrots
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried sage
12 oz. your favorite stout beer (I used Guinness)
32 oz. beef broth
3 bay leaves
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/3 cup heavy cream 

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.

Sear short ribs in batches, cooking them for 1-2 minutes on each side until a dark golden-brown crust forms.

Remove ribs and set aside. Add onion, carrot, celery, and a large pinch of salt and pepper to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add sage and thyme. Cook for one minute, stirring frequently.
Transfer veggies to the slow cooker insert. Add seared beef ribs.

Then add beer, beef broth, bay leaves, and another couple of large pinches of salt and pepper.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4 hours) until the beef falls off the bone and shreds easily.

Remove three cups of braising liquid from the slow cooker and pour it through a strainer and into a small saucepan over medium heat.

Combine cornstarch with 3 tablespoons cold water until dissolved. Add that to the saucepan and stir to combine.

Simmer braising liquid over medium to medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until it thickens significantly (and almost seems TOO thick). Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For side dishes, I made Mashed Potatoes and Air Fryer Asparagus. The Asparagus was really easy. I just trimmed the ends and tossed the spears with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top. I set the Air Fryer for 400˚. I put the spears in for 7 minutes. That is all it took!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Air Fryer Orange Chicken

Yes, I do love the Air Fryer!  

For dinner tonight we made Air Fryer Orange Chicken. Quite good. The only change I would make is to make the pieces a little bigger. The chicken had a nice coating on it and the sauce was perfect.

Orange Chicken

1/2 lb boneless Chicken Breast, cubed
3 egg, beaten
1 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 cup of orange juice
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp finely chopped scallion
1 pinch crushed red pepper
zest of 1 orange
White Rice for serving

Toss the chicken with the egg in a bowl.

Combine the cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a separate small bowl and mix.

Coat the chicken with the cornstarch mixture. Shake off any excess cornstarch.

Insert the Fry Tray into the Basket. Insert the Basket into the air fryer.

Press the French Fry button, 400˚F, and set the cooking time for 15 minutes.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil on the stovetop. Then, lower the heat to simmer. Cook until reduced by half.

Trhasfer the cooked chicken toa bow.

Add the sauce and toss to coat.

Serve the chicken over white rice with a drizzle of orange sauce.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Baked Sausages with Savory Onion

Back to work Monday!! 

Oh, wait. I'm on vacation!!! 

A staff meeting at So What Are You Making For Dinner & Friday Night Baking was held. In-person. No Zoom. Not sure the cats could figure out how to unmute and turn their cameras on. We worked on the 2020 Best of List.

Next, we had a social distancing outdoors visit with my nephew, his wife, and his children. I am so over 2020. I want to sit at a table inside and talk and laugh with my family. That's all. Maybe next year.

Dinner. We cracked open a new cookbook. Cooking Italian with the Cake Boss. I have been a fan of Buddy Valastro since his show first went on the air. Chris got me his baking pan set one Christmas, it is the best I have used. I have another of his cookbooks and I ordered the Rainbow Cake from his shop on Goldbelly for Chris's birthday. He had an awful accident this fall. His hand, right hand, was pierced with a piece of metal. There is a show on TLC, The Road to Recovery, that documents the accident. Pretty graphic but you see his determination to get back to work.

Dinner. I tried the recipe for Baked Sausages with Savory Onions.

This is a perfect winter meal. It was quite filling. We made 1/2 the recipe and still had some leftover. The flavors were smooth and the aroma was over the top!

    6 fat links sweet Italian sausage with fennel, approximately 2 pounds
    1 bulb fennel, trimmed, halved, cored, cut lengthwise in thin slices
    2 medium Spanish onions, halved, cut lengthwise in thin slices
    Olive oil
    4‑6 sprigs fresh thyme
    1‑1/4 cup rich (unsalted) chicken stock
    3/4 cup Italian white wine, I used Sauvignon Blanc
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 Tablespoon brown sugar
    1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
    Black pepper

    Preheat oven to 400°.
    Prick each sausage several times to prevent bursting.
    Heat a Dutch oven large enough to accommodate the sausages in one layer over medium.
    Add sausages and brown on both sides – no need to cook through.
    Remove to a plate.
    Add another tablespoon of oil and add the fennel, onions, garlic, thyme, and salt.
    Reduce heat and sauté, slowly, until soft, translucent, and taking on color -- 10-15 minutes. Add the brown sugar and stir for 30 seconds.
    Add the stock and wine.
    Bring to a boil and let reduce by half.
    Put sausages back into the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
    Remove the sauasage from the pot and platter sausages.
    Swirl mustard into the onions, check salt, correct, and add grindings of black pepper.
    Pour onions over sausages.
    Garnish with sprigs fresh thyme, if desired.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Christmas Leftovers and Air Fries!!!

First Hello Fresh and now an Air Fryer! I have always wanted to try air frying. Now I can.

I decided to start simple... French Fries. We could have cooked our Christmas Roast in this thing but we decided to start small.

Of course, I did not take a photo of the sandwiches. Too bad because they were quite good. I sliced the leftover roast as thin as I could and heated up the wine sauce and warmed the meat up in that. Nice...

But the fries!!

Crisp and perfectly soft inside. Amazing! 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Soup and Salad

I love having salad for dinner the day after Christmas. It seems cleansing after the Christmas Feast!

This year we added my sister's Cupalets to the menu. We did not have them yesterday. Just another COVID hick-up. I don't know, it just seemed like too much food for one day.

Well, the broth was as always brilliant and the Cupalets were spot on.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Day. Table For Two.

Again we are alone. We are alone but we did Zoomed Christmas Cocktails with Lenore and Ralph. 

Usually, on Christmas, I go nuts with appetizers for our Cocktail Hour. Seeing it was only the two of us I scaled back dramatically.

Six little penguins this year. Store-bought crackers with cheese. 

I was not going to let COVID screw up my Christmas Roast tradition. I got a Standing Rib Roast with just 2 ribs. I did the 450˚ for 20 minutes and finished up at 350˚. Not bad. But I did miss eating with Lenore and Ralph.

Merry Christmas to all and good night to 2020.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve Care Package

Not much difference this year from last year as far as dinner went. Well unless you consider it was just Chris and me at the dinner table in our own house. No dinner at my sister's this year. Didn't get to catch up with the usual group. As much as it was missed we have to hope that next year we can all sit down together again.

We did receive a care package from Lenore and Ralph that had everything we needed or could have wanted for Christmas Eve dinner. Heck, they even gave us the wine!

Sauce with lobster tails! 

Stuffed Squid in a marina sauce! 

Baccala Salad (the spicy one)!!!! 

Fried Cod Cakes!!! 

Shrimp and Scallop Cakes!!!

Amazing! Delicious!! Just like it tastes every year!!! 

But I got a text from Lenore and Ralph and they asked the question, "Is it the company or the food that makes the holiday?"

We missed seeing everyone. The food was still delicious. Yes enjoying it with everyone would have been wonderful. But if 2020 has taught us nothing, it has taught us that we can adapt to any situation. 

Of course, having the care package did make it a little easier to adapt.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Hello Fresh?

Yup, Hello Fresh has entered our home. It was a gift from my employer. I picked out 3 meals and just like that they ended up at our door.

I have avoided this type of meal planning for some time. I felt the cost was too high. 3 meals cooked at home for $69.00?

But as this is 2020, if we had been able to eat out this year, 3 meals for $69.00 would be quite the bargain.

The whole presentation reminded me of the Easy-Bake Oven. No, I did not have an Easy Bake-Oven but my cousin Ellie did. The packaging was cute. Little containers of just enough of everything. The quality of the meat and vegetables was exceptional. 

Now down to dinner. The first meal we made was the Peppercorn-Crusted Beef Tenderloin. The meal came together in 30 minutes. The trick is to have all the ingredients ready to go. The recipe was very easy to follow. What would I change? Use less pepper for the coating and roast the Brussel Sprouts at 375˚. Also not a huge fan of sour cream in the Mashed Sweet Potatoes, but that's just me. 

Next up was the Golden Chicken Schnitzel. Now, this we really liked. This too came together quickly, better for a work night dinner than the Beef Tenderloin was. We just really liked this one a lot. I loved the idea of the sour cream coating the chicken before adding the bread crumbs. And the Creamy Dijon Sauce was delicious!

We have one more but we froze the beef for that one. The Gouda Vibes Burger will be made later in the month.

So once you sign up you are in. You can do this every week or once a month.  Each box is about $69.00, plus shipping. You can pick whatever schedule you would like. I am not going for the once a week plan. I may do this once a month, kind of like a treat. It could take the place of eating out. But not sure yet... Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

This similar to something my Mom use to make. Chicken breasts and thighs. Sweet potatoes cut into thin spears. Toss chicken and potatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Roast 60 minutes at 375˚ or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Slow Cooker Osso Buco with Red Wine

Winner, Winner! Slow-Cooked Dinner!!!

From the Italian Slow Cooker Cookbook by Michele Scicolone. This is a cookbook that you might want to pick up for your collection. I had a busy day of running around so I started this early and left instructions as to when to turn off the slow cooker.

4 veal shanks
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, chopped'
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry red wind/
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

To help the shape of the meat as it cooked, tie a piece of kitchen twine around the circumference of each shank.

On a piece of wax paper, stir together the flour and salt, and pepper. In a large, heavy skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Dip the cut sides of each piece of meat in the four mixture and place it in the skillet. cook, turning the meat once until nicely browned, about 10 minutes on each side. Transfer the browned meat to the slow cooker.

Add the chopped vegetables to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the wine to the skillet and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the liquid comes to a boil. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, and thyme.

Pour the sauce over the veal. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours, or until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork.

Remove the twine and serve hot.

Good to the last drop!

Friday, November 27, 2020

A Pepperoni Pie

It's the day after Thanksgiving and I started baking Christmas cookies. It is what I do. I only made one cookie today. The Striped Cookie. It is the most labor-intensive cookies that I make. I thought it would be a good idea to get it done first. You can read more about the cookie and see the recipe on the post.

Usually, we order pizza the day after Thanksgiving. Tonight we had some amazing pizza in our freezer. Chris had ordered a 6 pack of Zuppardi's pizza from Goldbelly which arrived on Wednesday.

This was my neighborhood pizzeria when I was growing up. It was a 5-minute walk from my house. 

Tonight we had a pepperoni pizza. OMG, it was so good! Thank you Chris for dinner tonight!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving 2020, the year that keeps on giving. 

Today's highpoint - The Zoom Cocktail Hour with my sister and her family. 

Second highpoint - The amazing stuffing that Chris makes. 

Third highpoint - Pies!!!!! Wow, they came out really, really good!

Low point - The bird. Purchased a pre-cooked turkey breast, yeah I took the easy way out. And the result was quite disappointing. We have decided that next year we do will not do turkey unless it's at my sister's house because she makes a really good turkey. If it is just the two of us again next year we are opting for Lasagna. Homemade of course.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Bacon Carbonara Fettuccine

This is not our usual Sunday night fare, not pizza. But pasta, cheese, egg, and bacon is not a bad substitute for pizza.

10 oz. Fettuccine
slices bacon, cut into small pieces
3 large eggs 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 cup Parmesan, shaved

Cook the pasta in a large pot following directions on the box. Keep 1 cup of pasta water to the side to drain pasta (do not rinse pasta).

In a large skillet add the bacon and cook it until crisp then turn off the heat and remove the bacon with a slotted spoon then add the pasta and toss it in the bacon fat.

Add the eggs, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese to a large bowl and whisk well before adding slowly while tossing the hot pasta quickly to prevent it from scrambling.

Add in 1/4 - 3/4 cup of the pasta water, tossing again to create a saucy consistency to the pasta then topping with bacon before serving.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Roman-Style Chicken

Today I was looking for a recipe that Chris had posted on my Facebook page. Of course, I could not find it so I checked his page to see if it was on there. It was not but I did find this recipe.  Roman-Style Chicken from Giada De Laurentiis.

I made a couple of changes. No garlic was used, I used crushed tomatoes and did not add the chicken broth. Rave reviews were received!!

My version of Roman-Style Chicken


2 skinless chicken breast halves, with ribs

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon

2 tbsp olive oil

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, chopped

2 cups crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup white wine

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves

1 tablespoon capers

2 tbsp cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the peppers and prosciutto and cook until the peppers have browned and the prosciutto is crisp, about 5 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the capers and the parsley. Stir to combine and serve.