Monthly Archives: January 2014

Curly Cues

You know when you have a craving for something sweet and your cupboards are missing one of two of the vital ingredients for that cool new recipe you found online or even one of your own sweet staples.  I had zero intention of going anywhere today its way too cold and windy outside. It was a very nice day to stay in and do much of nothing. But I still had a craving for something sweet.

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So around 4 o’clock I finally got a little motivated so I decided to start cooking; I have a roaster chicken in the oven; potatoes, carrots and pea’s ready to go on top of the stove.  But what I really wanted was something sweet and easy to make.  It has been quite some time since I made them and they are far from a healthy snack so I wouldn’t make them all the time; BUT they are pretty damn good once in a while.

I have no idea where the name came from, or even where the recipe came from.  For as far back as I can remember these were a sweet treat from my childhood. They were always made from left over pie dough.  While I don’t use this dough for anything but curly cues now, when I was younger the women in my family used to use this recipe for pies all the time.  I have tried other dough’s for curly cues and nothing works quite like this very simple recipe.

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Dough

2 Cups Flour

½ Cup Vegetable Oil

½ Cup Cold Water

Mix well and pour out to a lightly floured surface

You want to use a rolling pin and roll it into a rectangle; it doesn’t have to be perfect

Stick of butter or margarine

Cup or so of Sugar (I cover the butter/dough)

Tablespoon or so of Cinnamon (as much or as little as you like)

I doubled the batch which makes what you see in the pictures about 18

Bake for an hour at 350’

Note – if you have a silpat use it, if not you are going to want to make sure you use cooking spray and clean the pan while it is still a little warm. If you wait too long it turns to rock candy.

Cooking with Red Wine

I mentioned last week I would talk a little about how I cook with red wine.  I don’t recall ever using red wine for anything that didn’t have some sort of beef product.

I frequently use red wine to make a delicious au jus, just brown the beef and deglaze the pan with red wine, some crushed garlic.  Boil down till half add some salt and pepper to taste.

My husband refers to this beef stew as my “quick one” which actually kind of irritates me because though it cooks relatively quicker than most, it still has the same amount of prep and chopping. Maybe one of these days I will have him just whip this up!

Beef Stew

3 pounds of stewing beef (trim and cut to 1 inch pieces)

Kosher salt and Fresh cracked black pepper

Olive oil to brown the beef

3 Cups diced yellow onion (about 2 medium)

3 large cloves garlic, mined

2 bay leaves

2 Tsp dried thyme

3 TBS flour

2 Cups red wine

2 Cups water

Carrots

Potatoes

Turnip (or whatever veggie you like if you don’t like turnip)

Adjust rack to lower middle of oven, pre-heat to 450’F

Heat oil over medium heat in a heavy based Dutch oven or like.  Shoot for a 9 to 11 inch in diameter pot that can also go into the oven at high temperature

Salt and Pepper beef and brown all over – the brown is where all the flavor comes from

Work in batches, you do not want to crowd the pot.

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Once all the beef is browned, set aside in bowl to capture all the liquid as you will add it all back in the pot.

Add the onions and garlic to the pot; season with salt and pepper; if it looks dry add more oil a tablespoon at a time.  Cook till they are softened about 5 minutes.  Add the thyme and bay leaf, stir cooking for about 30 seconds; add the flour and stewing liquid (wine and water).  Return the beef and drippings to the pot.  Cover tightly and cook – what cuts down on the cooking time is that you are going to use tinfoil to get as close to the beef as you can.  Lay a sheet of heavy-duty foil over the pot, and being careful press down (preferably using a towel) so it just about touches the stew.  Press against the sides of the pot; crimp the foil around the rim for a tight seal.  Turn up the stovetop until you hear the juices bubbling; add the pot to the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.

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Cook the veggies separate; I tend to boil all three together to save on dirtying dishes, you can sauté or steam if you would rather.  You know how most beef stew recipes have you cook all ingredients together for several hours. The veggies tend to lose their identity.  Cooking them separate and adding them later to meld they truly keep their flavor. It is a nice change you should try it.

Remove the pot from the oven, carefully remove the foil and stir in the veggies.  Cover again with the foil and lid; remember the pot and cover are super-hot.  Let stand so the meat rests and the veggies meld with the stew about 15 minutes.  If needed you might need to add a little  more water or beef stock if it is too thin.  I just made this today and I had to add more liquid for our liking.

Cooking with White Wine pizza sauce

Firstly I need to say PLEASE do not use cooking wine to cook with EVER!  I know I mentioned in quite a few posts that I m a newbie to wine drinking but I have always had wine on hand for cooking.  I have for many years bought those little 4 pack mini bottles from the grocery store and kept them in my pantry.  I would buy a red and a white.  I did and sometimes still do; struggle a bit to what kind to buy Merlot versus Pinot Noir and Chardonnay versus Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc.  It can be pretty intimidating and quite time consuming but it will be worth it.  So here is my suggestion on your next grocery shopping list add a Merlot and a Chardonnay 4 pack to start and let the adventures begin.

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Homemade Pizza’s with below sauce

I had a friend/co-worker stop by my area last week looking forward to making the Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe that I blogged about last week.  She was ill-advised to pick up some cooking wine, I begged her not to use it.  I wanted her dish to have a fighting chance to come out as delicious as mine so I told her about the 4 pack mini bottles and that I used to stock them all the time for cooking with.  The day after her dinner she stopped over first thing to share with me her success.  It made my entire day; I loved that she tried it, I loved that her entire family enjoyed it and I loved her story about the wine.  She stopped at a local store that unfortunately did not stock 4 pack minis so she ended up buying a full bottle.  It was time for the wine and she quickly came to the realization they didn’t own a bottle opener.  She told her husband “I don’t care how you do it; but I need this opened now”!  He offered to run up to the store but she insisted he figure it out.  He ended up grabbing a screw and thankfully got the bottle open.  Voila Success!!!  Side note:  You won’t need a bottle opener for the 4 pack minis.

Here are a couple of things I use wine for – but not limited to these!

I use White Wine in my pizza sauce; which also freezes well

¼ cup Olive Oil

2 Cloves of minced Garlic

1 28oz can peeled, crushed tomato w/puree

1 Bay leaf

1 ½ TBS dried Oregano

1 Tsp sugar

¾ Cup White wine

Salt and Pepper to taste

Several shakes of Crushed Red Pepper – to your liking

Heat Olive Oil in a 3-4 Quart sauce pan, sauté the garlic for 30 seconds (just don’t burn it). Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened and the flavors meld.  About 30-40 minutes.

I also use white wine for my spaghetti sauce; I tend to use it for swirling out the tomato can or in a pinch the jar sauce.  Which I don’t mind using but you must doctor it up with spices, garlic, onions and of course white wine.

The last couple of times I cooked up a medley of fresh veggies for my side, I sautéed them with a little olive oil, butter, shallots, Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper;  just till al-dente, before they finished cooking I added a little white wine and was so thrilled with the end result.  Talk about stepping it up a notch – they were so flavorful the fam loved em!

This is getting pretty “wordy” as my daughter would say so next week. Cooking with Red Wine.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

A few months ago my son requested chicken cordon bleu.  I have mentioned that sometimes I get myself in trouble when I ask what the fam wants for meals.  However I have made it a few times now; and it is not hard at all.  Last week while at work; I was cleaning out some old emails and came across the recipe ( I sent it to a friend and told her to try it).  While at lunch I picked up a few of the things that I knew I didn’t have on hand and I made it for dinner that night. My mother has been staying with us for a few weeks now, she kind of chuckled when I told her what I was making; apparently not everyone whips up such a dish on a school night.  It was awesome; the white wine sauce is just insanely delicious though I did make it slightly less fattening than the recipe called for that I found online, you wouldn’t know it from how quickly the plates were cleared though.

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I almost always have boneless skinless chicken breast in the freezer, but it being a weeknight I bought thin cut breast at the store.  Sometimes I don’t want to deal with defrosting meat quickly.  I also rarely have Swiss cheese on hand so I grabbed some of that as well.  Everything else I had on hand.

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

6 slices of Swiss cheese

6 slices of Ham

3 TBS flour

1 Tsp Paprika

3 Tbs butter (it wanted only butter; but that is a little too much love)

3 Tbs Olive Oil

¾ Cup white wine

1 Tbs chicken base (or 1 tsp chicken bouillon/granules)

1 Tbs corn starch

1 Cup milk (I used 1%)

If you need to make sure to pound the breast so they are not too thick (you need to be able to roll them) place a piece of ham and cheese on each breast, they should not overhang the breast.  Fold the chicken over the filling and secure with a toothpick or two (I used skewers that I clipped shorter but still longer than a regular toothpick) Mix the flour and paprika in a pie plate or similar, coat the chicken and put aside until all pieces are coated.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook the chicken until browned on all sides; add the wine and chicken base, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or so until the chicken is done.

Remove the toothpicks; transfer the chicken to a platter.  Mix the cornstarch with the milk in a small bowl (I used my 2 cup measuring cup), whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened, pour the liquid gold over the chicken and serve.

I loved the sauce so much I have actually used it on pork chops – it works try it!!!  If you are looking for something a little special to make for dinner – give this a try you will look like a rock star with minimal effort!