Recipe: Easy Wine’d Beef

Since the weather was so chilly last week, I was searching out a way to make something for dinner that would warm us up.  Stir-fry would have been tasty, but since I don’t have a good non-stick pan at my disposal yet (still in the apartment), I opted to make a faster version of a traditional Beef Bourguignon.  EasyWine'dBeef

I started with a piece of beef that was on sale at the local grocery store.  I’m not exactly sure what cut of beef I purchased… I just know that there was some great marbling of fat (for yummy flavor) and it was boneless.  I popped it in the freezer for a bit to make it easier to cube, then tossed the cubes of beef with some flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

In the meantime, I heated some olive oil in a large stock pot and then sauteed a diced onion, a little green pepper, and a few handfuls of celery until they were softened and fragrant.  I love the way the smells in a kitchen can permeate the entire apartment and make the place smell “homey”, don’t you?

Once everything had a nice browned glaze to it, I moved them over and added the flour/seasoned beef to the pot.  I added a little more fat (some olive oil and a little margarine) to start the browning process for the beef.  This took some time, but it was well worth it.  NOTE: You’re not trying to cook the beef the whole way through, you’re just browning it in preparation for the slow cooking it will do in the liquid you’ll add next.

Once the beef is nicely browned, you are now going to add liquid.  I like to add a half bottle of a delicious red wine (like James River Cellars Merlot, Meritage, Rad Red, or even Hanover Red).  I also add about a cup of water and a beef bouillon cube to add some depth of beef flavor to the meal.  Your seasonings can be added now – I like to use a bay leaf or two, some herbs de provence, some worchestershire sauce, and a glop of ketchup.  Mix everything together, pop a lid on the top, and put the entire pot into a preheated 300 degree oven for an hour or two.  Stir it occasionally, to make sure that you’re getting the right blend of thickness and flavors… feel free to add more liquid if it’s getting too dry and don’t forget to remove the bay leaf before serving.

When you get close to dinner time, choose and cook a vegetable and a pasta of your choice.  As you can see by the photo, I used spaghetti noodles and broccoli.  Since my pantry is limited at the moment, I have an abundance of spaghetti, so I just broke the noodles in half and cooked them in salted water.  I then put a small bag of broccoli into the microwave and cooked it until it was bright green and cooked through.  I love serving this meal with wide egg noodles, but those didn’t make the cut when I was choosing what to bring to the apartment… feel free to use whatever pasta (or even a baked potato) you and your family like best.

I hope my recipes give you some ideas of meals you can make for your family, even if you don’t have a lot of “extras” at your disposal.  Play with what you’ve got on hand, pick up one or two essentials, and you can make a delicious dinner at home instead of spending extra money on dining out every night.  I have a hard time going to a restaurant and ordering something that I know I am able to make at home.  While I believe that going out should be a special experience, I do believe that staying in and making dinner for your family can bring about some pretty wonderful satisfaction as well.  It’s all in how you frame the experience.

Wishing you fun as you re-frame your own cooking experiences with your family!

 

 

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Recipe: Wine’d Up Meatloaf

Since I’m trying to make healthy recipes that also count as comfort foods and tasty dinners, this recipe ended up as a triple winner.  My husband actually went back for seconds and I had another serving for breakfast… that, for me, makes this dinner even better.  Aren’t we always looking for a new and unique meatloaf recipe?  This one definitely earned a gold star in my book.WinedUpMeatloaf

I started with a package of ground turkey.  NOTE: I like using ground turkey instead of ground beef in most of my recipes because I think it takes flavors better and more thoroughly than beef… but you should feel free to use whatever sort of ground meat you like best.  I placed the thawed meat in a bowl and added a palmful of parmesan cheese, a half an onion (diced), 1/3 an apple (diced), two cloves of garlic (diced fine), a big squirt of horseradish mustard, some red wine (I love using James River Cellars’ Rad Red or Boordy’s Petite Cabernet for this sort of dish), and seasonings (I used herbs de provence and salt/pepper).  I also needed some breadcrumbs, and I didn’t have any on hand, so I diced four pieces of toast and added that to the mixture as well.  Once everything was in my bowl, I gently blended it all together with my hands… best tools ever!

I like to change up how I form meatloaf patties from time to time, but I decided that I’d go “old school” and just bake this recipe in a traditional loaf pan.  Since I didn’t have ketchup in the fridge (I’m going to have to get some at the store the next time I go), I spooned a bit of spaghetti sauce over the top of my meatloaf and then sprinkled it with a bit of sugar to replicate the taste of ketchup.  Once baked (in a 375 degree oven for an hour), I found this dish to be thoroughly cooked, yet still moist enough to be flavorful.  I loved it.

Meatloaf is a fun recipe to use when you’re feeling creative.  I don’t always use horseradish mustard… I rarely use apple… it’s just a great way to play with different ingredients to make a delicious meal.  Try it sometime and let me know what you think… It’s fun!

Recipe: Beef Steak Sandwiches

Ideas for this sandwich kept popping up in my newsfeed all week, so I thought I would make my own rendition of this delicious recipe that Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) calls The Marlboro Man Sandwich.  It’s a fabulous-looking steak sandwich that isn’t anywhere near as expensive as it *could* be, since it uses cube steak as the main ingredient.   While I would highly recommend checking out the original recipe on The Pioneer Woman site – she’s very entertaining and, IMHO, the sort of personality to which *I* would strive as a cooking show host – this is my own version that recipe but includes WINE (of course)BeefSteakSandwich.

Ingredients:

  • Onions (I used one and sliced it for this recipe)
  • Butter (I used 2 Tablespoons, but will try coconut oil next time to see if that would work as a substitute)
  • Cube Steak (I used just under 1 pound of meat for 2 1/2 sandwiches)
  • Red Wine (I used a Pinot Noir from my fridge, but would typically use James River Cellars Rad Red)
  • Worchestershire Sauce
  • Lawrey’s Seasoning Salt

Directions:

  1. I started by melting a tablespoon of butter in a saute pan and then browned an entire sliced onion until it was soft.  I added a bit of red wine to brown with the onion to give it a bit more flavor, then removed it from the pan once the wine was absorbed.
  2. Once the onions were cooked and the pan was empty, I added the second tablespoon of butter to melt in the pan.  While it melted, I sliced the meat across the grain and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  When the butter was hot, I placed the strips of steak in the pan and allowed them to sear well before flipping them over and doing the same thing to the other side.
  3. As the steak finished cooking, I re-added the onions and poured in about a half cup of red wine to make a base for the sauce.
  4. Using the wine to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the saute pan, I seasoned the meat with a bit of worchestershire and some Lawrey’s Seasoning Salt.  The sauce reduced fairly quickly and was ready for dinner soon after.
  5. To serve this lovely sandwich, I toasted two hoagie rolls and spooned the steak/onion mixture onto half of the roll.  I love cheese, so I added some shredded mozzarella cheese to my sandwich while my husband had his without cheese.  The best part of this recipe is to drizzle a bit of the sauce down over the meat once it’s on the roll… I think it’s the sauce that makes this sandwich so very salty, flavorful, and deep.

I hope you’ll try your own version of this sandwich sometime.  Add peppers to the onions if you like – that would add some great nutrition to this meal as well as a bit of a fun twist.  I used the last bits of the meat in a salad, so I can safely say that this is a recipe that you can use in most any way you can imagine.  It’d be great in wraps, salads, over noodles, or just as the original sandwich… you just can’t go wrong!

Salud!

Recipe: Wine Cupcakes

Ok…. Even I was a bit skeptical when I came up with this idea.  I had a box of white cake mix… I had James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay white wine… I had some Pinot Noir red wine… what’s a girl to do?  Swap the wine for water!

WineCupcakes

I weighed out the cake mix to make sure that I actually was able to separate the mix into separate bowls and then went to work.  I used the cake mix directions and simply swapped out the water in each half with a different wine.  I used exactly the same ingredients for each half of the mix, but I used James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay white wine for the “white cake” and I used a Pinot Noir red wine for the “red cake”  Don’t they look interesting?  NOTE:  I would absolutely have used James River Cellars Rad Red, if I’d had some in the fridge when inspiration took hold this morning.

Rather than add frosting to these cupcakes, I decided to add sprinkles.  I had gold sanding sugar to add to the white/chardonnay cupcakes, but I didn’t have any red sanding sugar on hand, so I used multi-colored tiny sugar balls for the red/pinot noir cupcakes.

I know this is a weird way to use wine, but I just had to try it… nothing lost by trying and everything gained by finding another fun use for wine!  I hope you’ll consider trying these out sometime.  It’s bizarre, but I think they’re surprisingly tasty.  Have fun!

NOTE:  I shared these with my co-workers and we all agreed that the Reserve Chardonnay cupcakes were tastier than the Pinot Noir ones… but check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

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Recipe: Coq au Vin (Chicken in Wine)

This classic French stewed chicken recipe (actual translation is “rooster/cock in wine”) with bacon, mushrooms, and onions is such a wonderful one to have in your arsenal of favorites.  It’s not terribly difficult to make, extremely impressive sounding, and the taste is outstanding.  These three reasons alone should have you running to your local grocery store to pick up a few fresh ingredients to make this for dinner soon.  Even better (for you), I used a “real” recipe as my starting point, so this is going to *look* like a real recipe when I finish this post.  Please know that I did use The Force when making it, so I took liberties with the recipe as I was making it for my family, but I’ll include those notes throughout the recipe for you.  I hope you’ll consider making this recipe soon… it’s absolutely delicious!

Ingredients:

  • Bacon slices (I sliced up 1/3 package into small diced pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced, or equal amount of sliced leeks (I used leeks)
  • 6 chicken breasts (skinless/boneless)CoqAuVin
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups red wine (pinot noir, burgundy, zinfindel – I used James River Cellars Rad Red)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Several fresh thyme sprigs (or use dried)
  • Several fresh parsley sprigs (or use dried)
  • 1/2 lb button mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:

  1. Brown bacon on medium high heat in a dutch oven big enough to hold the chicken, about 10 minutes.  Remove cooked bacon, set aside.  Keep bacon fat in the pan.  NOTE:  I used a large/deep skillet, with a lid, that could go in the oven
  2. Working in batched if necessary, add onions (my leeks are shown in the middle pic on the left side of photo) and brown until slightly toasty.  Remove and then brown chicken well, on all sides, about 10 minutes.  I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper during the browning stage to bring out the flavor of the chicken.
  3. Once chicken is all browned, return all the chicken and onions/leeks to the pot, add the garlic, chicken stock, wine, and herbs.  Add back the bacon.  Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through.  NOTE: at this point, I put the lid on the pan and popped it into the oven at 300 degrees until the chicken was tender.  I had started this dish much earlier in the day than was necessary, so I needed to slow down the cooking time.
  4. Once chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken and onions to a separate platter, cover and keep warm.  Remove bay leaves, herb sprigs, and discard.  I like to keep the garlic in the sauce, but you’re welcome to remove the garlic at this point if you prefer.
  5. Add mushrooms to the remaining liquid and turn the heat to high.  Boil quickly and reduce the liquid by three fourths until it becomes thick and saucy.  Lower the heat, stir in the butter, and adjust seasonings as needed.  NOTE: I added a touch of milk to tone down the seasonings.
  6. Return chicken and onions to the pan to reheat and coat with sauce.  Adjust seasonings and garnish with parsley and serve.

This should serve 6.  Serve with roasted potatoes (as seen in the photo), mashed potatoes, or over egg noodles.  My husband loved this dish and commented that “everyone would eat this”, meaning that I could serve this to my entire family and everyone would be happy.  Spices weren’t too overpowering and the flavor of the wine and stock meshed well together to create a thoroughly enjoyable meal.

Nothing could have been better to hear, in my opinion!  I hope you try it and hear the same accolades…

 

Crock Pot Recipe: Pork Roast

This recipe was so ridiculously easy that I’m almost embarrassed to post it… almost.  I was on the schedule to work earlier this week and decided to through a few things in my crock pot to see how dinner would turn out.  The meal was filling and flavorful, just what I needed after a busy day, but it came together so simply that I just had to share it with you.

CrockpotPork

I found (literally… my husband defrosted our freezer over the weekend) a lovely 2-3 pound pork loin that needed to be used and decided to be a bit creative in what I was making that evening.  To the bottom of the crock pot, I layered 2 sliced onions, 1 sliced apple, 1/2 cup James River Cellars Rad Red, and 1/2 cup James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay.  I un-bagged the pork loin, placed it on top of the vegetables, seasoned it with garlic salt, pepper, and herbs de provence.  I realized that I wouldn’t have time to cook and make mashed potatoes, so I popped 4 small potatoes in the same pot and cooked everything on low for 6-8 hours.  By the time I got home, the house smelled amazing!

Adding the finishing touches on dinner was fairly simple.  I pulled the potatoes out and mashed them in a bowl.  I added some of the liquid (along with the cooked veggies) from the pot to the potato mixture to smooth everything out, then added a touch of margarine (or butter), salt, and pepper before serving.  I sliced the pork, which honestly was falling apart at this point, and served dinner in under 15 minutes after my arrival home.  It was simple, tasty, and satisfying… three things that I look for when trying to come up with a work-night recipe.

I hope you’ll consider trying this recipe or a variation thereof… making dinner doesn’t have to be a huge production… it can be as easy as thinking ahead.  Enjoy!

Crock Pot Recipe: Red Wine Pulled Pork

I have been asked about crock pot recipes and thought I’d post my version of this recipe from the blog, “100 days of Real Food”, that states that it’s The Best Pulled Pork Recipe In A Crockpot.  I started with the author’s recipe but ended up tweaking it so much that it became a version of my own.  Don’t get me wrong… this recipe that I’ve linked is stellar.  If it looks like one you’d prefer to use, go for it.  That’s the beauty of cooking and creating recipes – if you find you’re missing an ingredient, or your family has particular tastes, then by all means alter the recipe to suit those you’re feeding.  Remember, there are NO food police… NO wine police… just enjoy the process and have fun creating something tasty!

Here are the Red Wine Pulled Pork ingredients I used yesterday:RedWinePulledPork

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 square garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried lemon thyme
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup red wine (I used a Malbec, but James River Cellars Rad Red would be great here) 
  • 1/2 cup Chambourcin Wine Jelly (made by a former employee at James River Cellars – any of her red wine jellies would work well in this recipe)
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 3 to 3 ½ pounds pork (I used a Boston Butt), cut in half, excess fat removed

Directions:

  1. Mix all spices together in a small bowl and then add the honey and wine.  Mix to make a paste and set aside.
  2. Put onion in the bottom of your crock pot and place the pork on top.
  3. Pour spice paste over the pork and allow pork to cook for 6-7 hours, stirring occasionally, until cooked thoroughly and shreds easily.
  4. Add wine jelly to the shredded meat and allow it to cook for 10-15 minutes to incorporate the flavors.  We found the cayenne pepper to be a bit too spicy in this recipe, so the jelly added a bit of sweetness that really made the flavors pop.
  5. Serve warm on rolls with coleslaw, if desired.  Also tasty on a salad with some “southwest” flavors added (corn, black beans, cheese, etc).

This was an incredibly easy recipe and one that really didn’t need any BBQ sauce or ketchup for flavor.  The meat was tender, the onion thoroughly incorporated into the meat, and it got rave reviews in my house.  Definitely a KEEPER recipe for me!  Hope you’ll consider trying it the next time you want to make a simple, easy dinner.