Slow Cooked Cider Braised Short Ribs with Sweet Potato Mash

So, this isn’t a Slow Cooker Meal per-se, but, it was slow cooked in the oven. A bit of a stretch, but, it’s definitely a meal for a Sunday when you are home relaxing and don’t want to be fussing over the stove.

To begin, I seasoned my short ribs with salt and pepper. I then heated olive oil in my Dutch oven over high heat. Once the oil was ready I seared the ribs on each side for about a minute and then transferred them to a plate.

I then deglazed the pot with a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and added minced garlic and cooked it for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Next, I added in mushrooms and cooked them until they were beginning to soften.

I returned the ribs to the pot along with additional cider, beef stock and fresh thyme sprigs and then transferred the pot, covered, to my oven which I preheated to 225 F and let it cook for 4 hours.

I knew the ribs were ready when the meat easily fell off the bones. I discarded the bones and using two forks I shredded the meat.

I served the meat over sweet potato mash and I must say the two are a perfect combination. The tang from the cider vinegar is muted by the sweetness of the mash allowing all the flavors to complement one another. You can’t ask for a better thing in a plate of food.

Cider Braised Short Ribs with Sweet Potato Mash

Ingredients:

For The Short Ribs:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds beef short ribs

salt and fresh black pepper

1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar

4 garlic cloves minced

1 1/2 cups mushrooms (can use white, baby portabella, cremini)

1/2 cup beef stock

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

 

For The Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

salt and fresh black pepper

 

Directions:

For the short-ribs:

Preheat the oven to 225 F.

Season the short-ribs with salt and pepper.

In an oven-proof pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the ribs and sear on each side for about a minute then transfer to a plate.

Deglaze the pan with a 1/4 cup of the cider. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened.

Return the ribs to the pan and add the remaining cider, the beef stock and thyme sprigs.

Cover and bake in the oven for about 4 hours, or until the meat is tender enough to be shredded.

Discard the bones and shred the meat and serve over the sweet potato mash.

 

For the sweet potato mash:

Peel and halve the sweet potatoes and place them in a pot of boiling water for about 30-40 minutes, until they can be pierced easily.

Drain the water and add the butter, cream and parmesan. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until most of the lumps are gone and the ingredients are well combined.

Recipe from Foodness Gracious

 

Almond Horns

If you didn’t know, almond is one of my favorite flavors when it comes to dessert. Give me an Almond Croissant for breakfast and I am a happy camper – although that’s not really a dessert item, but, it could be. LOL! Since I am a fan of almond I regularly get the Odense Newsletter that features recipes using their almond paste. In their latest newsletter they had a recipe for Almond Horns that were super simple, I had most of the ingredients on hand and I figured it was time to bake something sweet.

To make the dough I broke the almond paste into small pieces and added it to the bowl of my food processor along with confectioners’ sugar. I mixed the two until it was the texture of fine crumbs. I then added in an egg white (reserving the yolk) and almond flour. I continued mixing the dough until it became a smooth paste.

Next I turned the dough onto my counter that I dusted with confectioners’ sugar and rolled the dough into a 12-inch log and then divided it into 12 equal pieces and rolled each piece into a ball.

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After that I rolled the balls into 3-inch logs that were slightly tapered toward the ends.

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I added water to the reserved yolk and beat the two and spread thinly sliced almonds, which I crushed slightly, on a plate.

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I then dampened the logs in the egg yolk and rolled them in the almonds bending them into crescents and placed them on a parchment lined cookie sheet that I then placed in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

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While the Almond Horns were in the refrigerator I preheated the oven to 350F. After the 20 minutes, I baked them for 14 minutes and then let them cool completely on a wire rack.

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Once they were cooled I melted bittersweet chocolate and dipped the ends of the horns in.

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These are so good and so easy and quick to make. The outside is crispy while the inside is moist and chewy.

 

Almond Horns

Ingredients:

1 box Odense almond paste, broken into small pieces

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting

1 large egg, separated and at room temperature

1 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour*

1 cup thinly sliced almonds, slightly crushed

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate

*Can substitute Almond Flour. Using Almond Flour will make these cookies Gluten Free

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper

Using a food processor or mixer combine the almond paste and 3/4 cup of sugar. Mix until the texture is that of fine crumbs. Add the egg white and flour and continue mixing until the dough becomes a smooth paste, it will be slightly sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a confectioners’ sugar dusted work surface and roll into a 12-inch log. Divide the log into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Roll the balls into a 3-inch log that is slightly tapered at then ends.

Spread the almonds on a plate and beat the egg yolk with 2 tablespoons of water. Dampen the logs in the yolk mixture and then rolls in the almonds shaping the logs into a crescent. Place the crescents onto the prepared cookie sheet 2-inches apart and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Bake 14 to 16 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool the cookie sheet on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then slide the parchment paper off of the cookie sheet and onto the wire rack so the cookies can cool completely.

Once cooled melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Dip the ends into the melted chocolate and return to the parchment paper so the chocolate can set. Layer the cookies between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Recipe from Odense

Slow Cooker Sunday: Smoky Beef Chili

So, I have made chili before but, this was the first time I’ve made chili using beef chuck as opposed to ground beef and I must say it was a much heartier chili and definitely one I’ll make again.

This is my favorite type of slow cooker meal… Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker, give it a good stir and set it to cook…

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And a few hours later my meal was ready! You can’t beat that.

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When I packed some for lunch I topped it with shredded cheddar cheese so when I heated it up it was all melted and gooey… YUM!

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Slow Cooker Smoky Beef Chili

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

3 15.5oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 28oz. can diced tomatoes

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 cup tomato puree

3 teaspoons chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, plus 1 teaspoon sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

For topping: grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and cilantro

Directions:

Place all of the ingredients in a slow cooker and give everything a good stir to combine all of them.

Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, until the beef and vegetables are tender. Taste for seasoning and serve topped with your favorite topping.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie

It’s Pi day! And no, I didn’t spell that wrong. Today is 3/14, the first 3 numbers for Pi. The Greek letter that is a symbol in mathematics to represent a constant – the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It’s an irrational and transcendental number, i.e. it will go on infinitely without repetition or a pattern. Have I bored you yet? Sorry… On to the Pie. In honor of Pi Day, I decided to bake a pie I had never had before, a blueberry pie. A Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie to be exact. Yes, I never had Blueberry Pie until I made this one. I must say, I am not a big pie eater, especially fruit pie. I always feel like they are going to be super sweet. What made this pie a hit amongst those who tried it was the fact that it wasn’t super sweet. Something I was quite happy about as well.

I’m not a fan of making pie crust from scratch so I buy Pillsbury refrigerated crust. I find it works just as well as homemade crust – I am sure there are plenty of you shaking your heads at that comment right now – and its super easy to use to make a decorative crust. And another plus, clean-up is a cinch! So after letting my two crusts (one for the top and one for the bottom) come to room temperature I rolled out what would be the bottom into a 13 inch round; the crust was already a 9-inch round so I had no problem rolling it out the extra few inches. I then fitted it into my 9-inch pie plate.

Next, I made the filling. I combined 7 cups of fresh blueberries with sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch & lemon juice.

I then poured the mixture into the pie plate.

To make the lattice top, I started by rolling out the other half of the pie crust into another 13-inch round.  Then using a fluted pastry wheel I cut the dough into ten 1-inch strips. Thankfully my work mat has 1-inch grid lines on it so cutting out the strips was a breeze. I just had to be sure to cut in a straight steady line.

I placed five of the strips vertically on the pie, evenly spaced.

And then proceeded to fold and unfold the strips to create a lattice pattern.

I then trimmed and tucked in the edges of the crust and crimped it with a fork.

Next, I brushed the pie with an egg yolk-heavy cream egg wash and sprinkled sanding sugar on top.

And after refrigerating the pie for about a half hour in the fridge I placed it on a parchment lined baking sheet and baked it in a 400 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust began to brown, and then lowered the oven to 350 F and continued baking the pie for about another hour, until the crust was a deep golden brown and the juices began to bubble. I kept the pie tented with aluminum foil for most of the baking time, removing it for the last 30 minutes of baking so the crust wouldn’t brown too quickly.

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie

Ingredients:

Pie Crust – Bake your own or store bought

2 pounds (about 7 cups) fresh blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 large egg yolk, for egg wash

1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

On a lightly floured surface roll out half of your pie crust into a 13-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate.

In a large bowl combine the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into the pie plate, piling in the center.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the other half of your pie crust. Once again into a 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. To make the lattice, cut the dough into 10 1-inch strips using a fluted pastry wheel or a pizza cutter. Carefully place the strips on the pie weaving into a lattice pattern. Trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang and fold the edges under, then crimp with a fork.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream for the egg wash. Brush on top of the dough strips and then sprinkle with the sanding sugar.

Refrigerate or freeze the pie until firm, about 30 minutes.

Place the pie on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until the pie begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking until the crust is a deep golden brown and the juices begin to bubble, about an hour. If the crust begins to brown too quickly tent the pie with aluminum foil.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing in.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Pies and Tarts Book

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Spicy Mexican Chicken Stew

So, I personally think that one of the best things to make in a slow cooker is soup / stew. I consider them to be more or less one in the same. And this week I am bringing you a Spicy Mexican Chicken Stew that is the ideal Slow Cooker Meal. The only prep is some dicing, chopping and cutting. No sautéing veggies or heating the aromatics to develop the flavors. You control the level of spice with a jar of salsa. I got this recipe in the cookbook I mentioned last week… Slow Cooker Family Favorites. I’m 2 for 2 with the recipes in this book… Yay!

I began by stirring together salsa, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper in the bowl in my slow cooker.

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I then added in diced potatoes, frozen corn, cut celery & carrots, a diced onion and minced garlic.

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I gave everything a few good stirs to make sure the vegetables were coated by the salsa mixture.

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And finally, I placed 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs on top of the vegetables and poured in a can of chicken broth.

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So, according to the directions the stew was to be cooked on high for 4 hours, or until the chicken was cooked through and the vegetable were tender. After 4 hours the chicken was cooked through, so I removed it from the slow cooker and shredded it using two forks. But, my vegetables were still a bit undercooked, so I returned the chicken to the slow cooker and cooked everything for about another 2 hours.

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Which I think was the best thing. The end result were vegetables that were perfectly tender, but, better yet, the chicken was really able to absorb the flavors of the stew. YUM!

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I packed a bowl for lunch the following day and I must say it was even better then and each subsequent day!

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Spicy Chicken Mexican Stew

Ingredients:

1 16-oz jar spicy salsa*

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes**

1 16 ounce package frozen corn***

2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs****

1 14.5-oz chicken broth (approximately 2 cups)

 

*I used Chi-Chi’s Medium Thick & Chunky Salsa

**I used 2 medium sized potatoes and 1 small one

**The package I used was 12 oz.

****About 1 3/4 pounds of chicken

 

Directions:

In the bowl of a slow cooker stir together the salsa, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper.

Add the potatoes, corn, celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Toss everything to coat the vegetables.

Place the chicken on top and then pour in the chicken broth.

Set to cook on high for 4-6 hours, until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Once chicken is cooked, remove from the slow cooker and shred with two forks and return to the slow cooker. Season for taste.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

Cheesy Garlic Monkey Bread

So this is sort of a continuation from yesterday’s post – Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce. I made the sauce to go along with today’s post… A Cheesy Garlic Monkey Bread. I originally came across this recipe in an issue of Rachael Ray Magazine last year. Well, the recipe was for a Basic Monkey Bread and then you had a few options to flavor the bread. I was partial to trying the Cheesy Garlic version.

The version in the magazine called for you to actually make the dough for the bread, but, to be honest working with yeast and me don’t always go over that well. So, when I saw a recipe that used Pillsbury Grands! Biscuits as the base for a monkey bread I knew I had to try it.

I began by combining olive oil, grated Parmesan, minced garlic and salt in a large bowl.

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Next, I cut each Grands! Biscuit into four equal pieces. I ended up using 2 cans of biscuits, each of which has 8 biscuits so I ended up with 64 pieces. After cutting the biscuits of the first can I placed them back in the refrigerator so they would stay cold while I cut biscuits from the second can. It’s best to work with the biscuits when they are cold, you don’t want them to become warm & sticky.

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I then tossed half of the quartered biscuits in the olive oil mixture and gradually added in the remaining quarters.

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After spraying a Bundt pan with cooking spray, I layered the biscuit pieces into the pan. I opted to use my hands to spread the pieces into the pan to ensure they would be even throughout the pan.

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I then baked it in a 350F preheated oven for about 35 to 40 minutes. Until it was browned on top and I was sure that all of the biscuit pieces had cooked throughout the monkey bread. After letting it cool in the pan for a few minutes I inverted it and sprinkled it with freshly chopped parsley…

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And a side of homemade marinara sauce.

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Cheesy Garlic Monkey Bread

Ingredients:

2 Cans (16.3 oz.) Grands! Original Biscuits

3/4 cup olive oil

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter a large Bundt pan.

In a large bowl combine the olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic and salt and set aside.

Working with 1 can at a time, cut each of the biscuits into quarters. After cutting the first can place it back in the refrigerator while cutting the biscuits of the second can.

Fold half of the quartered biscuits into the olive oil mixture and gradually add in the remaining pieces.

Pile the biscuit pieces evenly into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then invert onto a large plate and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

Recipe Adapted From Rachael Ray Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: A Cookbook Review and Marinara Sauce

So about two months ago while perusing in the cookbook section of my local Barnes & Noble I began scanning through some of their slow cooker cookbooks and settled on purchasing America’s Test Kitchen: Slow Cooker Revolution. I was excited to try out some of the recipes as they sounded really good. I started with the Loaded Baked Potato Soup and it was a disaster! It had no flavor and was more like heavy mashed potatoes instead of soup. I decided that I would try it again another day with less potatoes. But then I tried another recipe and it didn’t come out that great, okay, truthfully, it was horrible again. It was a Broccoli and Chicken sauce that was to be used for pasta. The sauce, made with chicken broth and wine as the base, was bitter and the chicken was dry. Yuck! So, instead of trying a third recipe – quite honestly at this point none of the recipes sounded all that great – I headed back to Barnes & Noble to see if I could return it. And luckily I was able to. And since I wasn’t in a rush, I headed back to the cookbook area and picked up another book to try out… Slow Cooker Family Favorites by Maggie Shi. And (oh boy, starting 3 sentences in a row with “and,” such bad grammar… LOL) the first recipe I tried was delish… a slow cooker marinara sauce.

To make the sauce I combined crushed tomatoes, olive oil, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, fresh basil, fresh garlic and salt in the bowl of my slow cooker.

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And then gave everything a few good stirs and set it to cook on low for seven hours. For a little extra seasoning I added a few grinds of fresh pepper and that was it.

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I ended up with about 6 cups of sauce. I decided to freeze 4 cups and used 2 cups as a dipping sauce for this Cheesy Garlic Monkey Bread that I will be posting about tomorrow!

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Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 large fresh sprigs basil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a slow cooker and stir together.

Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Taste for seasoning.

Serve with breadsticks, garlic bread, baguette slices, etc. for dipping. Or use for your favorite pasta. Makes about 6 cups.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites