My experiments at lab seem to have me functioning in awkward and inconvenient time frames a lot the past 3 months. Thankfully the results have been pretty good thus far, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain so long as it continues to cooperate. It is comforting to feel like your efforts weren’t for nothing.
Speaking of things being comforting how about this soup?
Yes I just made yet another cheesy transition. (Are you keeping count on how many times I do that?) But truly I loved this soup. This soup actually almost didn’t even happen. First it appears that barley is a rare commodity in these parts, so it took awhile to even find that final ingredient after I originally saw this recipe. And then when I was ready to make it one weeknight, I neglected to read the recipe through ahead of time (fail) and realized dinner wouldn’t be ready for a little over 3 hours. I may have had dessert for dinner and then dinner for dessert that night.
So the lesson here is to first live in an area that has decent grocery stores, and second to read recipes fully before you make them! Unless you like having soup for dessert. (I have to admit however, I didn’t mind ending my meals for the day on the note of this soup.)
BEEF WITH BARLEY SOUP
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. beef cubes (for stew)
1 large onion, medium diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, smaller ends cut into rounds, larger ends diced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and large diced
1-1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1 tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
6 cups beef stock
2 cups water, if needed
1/2 cups pearl barley
1/2 tsp thyme
1 whole bay leaf
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
- Heat a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil.
- Brown the beef cubes for three minutes in the oil, then add the onions and garlic. Lower the heat to medium low and cook until the onions are cooked and just start to caramelize. Stir as needed to keep onions and garlic from burning. Lower heat if necessary; drizzle a little more olive oil if needed to keep food from sticking.
- Add everything except the tomatoes to the pot and stir well. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust heat as necessary to keep soup at a slow simmer. If the soup thickens too much, add a little more water or broth.
- Taste to correct seasonings, then add tomatoes and simmer for another hour. Remove bay leaf before serving.
This recipe is the reason why I made a double batch of chili just for me. It also comes in handy if you like to jazz up leftovers into a new meal (I happen to fall into that category). I know this from experience as I was attempting to eat everything in my fridge before the holidays arrived. Normally this would have resulted in creating even more leftovers but I brought this dish to a potluck and it was a huge success! Which means no more leftovers, hooray!
…but now what am I supposed to eat?
Don’t forgot to enter the giveaway going on right now for an adorable cookie spatula!
CHEDDAR CHILI CORNBREAD PASTA BAKE
1-1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow noodles
3/4 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
2-1/2 – 3 cups of leftover chili
1 batch of your favorite cornbread (I used half of this recipe and baked the other half as muffins)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Boil water and prepare pasta according to directions, shaving 1-2 minutes off the cooking time since the noodles are going into the oven. While the pasta is boiling, mix up a batch of your favorite cornbread and grate cheese. Drain pasta.
- Spray an 8×8-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Add pasta to the bottom of the dish, then layer on the cheese and chili. Top with your cornbread batter, spreading gently with a spoon. Don’t worry if it doesn’t reach the edges.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cornbread is golden on top and cooked underneath*. Serve immediately. Leftovers are good for 3-4 days.
*Note: depending on what cornbread mixture you use, your cooking time may differ. Just make sure to check it after 30 minutes or so. The cooking time will increase for the bread since it has “wet” layers underneath.
Source: How Sweet It Is
Last week I came down with a pretty nasty cold. But since my cat is not much of a cook, I had to make myself some soup – or chili rather. This recipe is my dad’s so it was the closest thing to having someone else cook for me as I could get without leaving my apartment.
This chili actually recently won best chili in a contest my dad entered in their community. No wonder, when we used to live in Texas he was on a chili team! The only thing I changed was using hot chili beans instead of mild.
Most of the time I double this recipe. In which case I sometimes use half chuck steak and half ground beef, and one can hot beans and one can mild (and yes I actually did double it this time but am posting the undoubled version). As an added bonus, I also whipped up my mom’s jalapeno cornbread which I will be sharing with you tomorrow!
One year ago: Oven-Fried Onion Rings
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. beef chuck steak, cut into bite-sized pieces (may substitute with ground beef)
1-15 oz. can tomato sauce
1-6 oz. can tomato paste
1-10.75 oz. can condensed tomato soup
3/4 cup water
6 oz. beer (half a bottle)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Tabasco hot sauce (optional)
1-15 oz. can hot Mexican chili beans
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
- In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion in olive oil until tender. Add meat and brown until only a little pink remains.
- Add sauce, paste, soup, water, beer, and seasonings. Thoroughly mix and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until thick, about 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender.
- Stir in the beans, pepper and cheese. Simmer for another 15 minutes and then serve immediately with additional cheese on top, and with either crackers or corn bread.
Source: My dad
I am very excited to be a new member of The Secret Recipe Club! For my first assignment I had the honor of picking a recipe from Jenni at The Gingered Whisk. Browsing through all of her recipes I knew it was going to be a tough decision, because I had a ton of tabs open within a matter of minutes. But then I discovered that we have something in common – we are both obsessed with root beer! Immediately I knew I would have to make her root beer sloppy joes, the post in which she proclaims her love of such bubbly goodness. And she calls it pop, which is so refreshing to hear after living in Memphis for 4.5 years. Yay pop! (I miss you, upstate NY.)
As I have said before, despite my love for root beer I have not played with it much in the kitchen. But after making pulled pork with my favorite pop, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that a sloppy joe would be just as good. That being said, these put Manwich to shame! I made them a little spicy by adding 3 tablespoons of green chiles, but you can cut back or even add more depending on how much sizzle you like on your tongue.
I served these for dinner while carving pumpkins with Katie and Leah, and they were a big success! Oh and we were also watching the Ohio State vs Wisconsin game which was absolutely AMAZING! I may have been screaming and jumping around a lot in between hacking into my pumpkin (when something I didn’t like happened). But my Buckeyes pulled it off for a big win. This season has been a roller coaster for sure but I am so excited to go back to Columbus for the Indiana game this weekend! Oh and Happy Halloween everyone!
Stay tuned for another root beer post soon, and this time it’ll be a dessert.
ROOT BEER SLOPPY JOES
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground sirloin
1-1/2 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup root beer
2/3 cup tomato sauce
3 Tbsp canned diced green chilies, optional
1-1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup minced scallions
4 potato rolls or hamburger buns
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute, just until fragrant. Add the beef and sauté, breaking up gently, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add the root beer, tomato sauce, green chilies (if using), and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a lively simmer and cook about 15 minutes, stirring often, until thickened.
- Stir in the scallions. Pile onto rolls or buns.
Source: The Gingered Whisk, originally from Parenting magazine.
Steph’s Virtual Bridal Shower: Stuffed Flank Steak with Potato Cakes and Amaretto Chocolate Cheesecake
Kita, from Pass the Sushi, contacted me about contributing to Steph’s (from Steph’s Bite by Bite) surprise virtual bridal shower and I definitely knew I wanted to be a part of it. Even though some of us (myself included) are already donating desserts to her dessert bar for the big wedding day, this was a fun idea to do in addition since it is after all, a surprise! Who doesn’t love surprises?
Another thing that I really liked about this idea, is that even though I am very aware that Steph is fully capable of pleasing her soon-to-be-hubby’s belly, she will now have a big new list of great date-night meal ideas to play with. I don’t know if that was the original intention behind this masterful plan, but I think it makes sense.
I decided to go all the way and do a full meal. Naturally, I created a huge mess in my kitchen making everything for this, but I drank a glass of wine in the process so it make it not seem so bad. And had another glass after cleaning up after myself. And then maybe I invited Katie over and we finished the whole bottle while watching Project Runway and being amused by my cat playing with a rubber band. Maybe… yes. Yes, I am getting sidetracked.
I prepped the potato cakes first, then let them sit for a few minutes while I prepared the flank steak. Once the steak was in the oven, I cooked up the potato cakes. The timing was just perfect and I can’t believe how well it all went together. The juicy flavorful steak was served curled up on top of the crunchy potato cakes that were super moist and heavenly. It is a fancified (I may have just made that word up) meat and taters!
As for the cheesecake, it was the logical choice for the end of this meal. With the Italian-ish feel of the steak, having a dessert with Amaretto and mascarpone just seemed right. And it is made one day in advance so the kitchen mess gets spread out between two days. But the dessert really doesn’t make much of a mess. Except maybe a mess of your diet, because I decided it needed a drizzle of Nutella on top while I was at it. Go ahead and try to tell me I was wrong.
Happy surprise virtual bridal shower, Steph!
FLANK STEAK STUFFED WITH SUNDRIED TOMATOES, GOAT CHEESE AND BASIL
10 oz. (ish) flank steak
2 oz. goat cheese, brought to room temperature to soften
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Butterfly the flank steak, and then pound is to flatten it slightly. Sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt and pepper.
- In a bowl, combine the softened goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, basil, a few grinds of pepper. Spread the mixture on top of the flank steak, and then roll it up to form a log. Secure the steak with kitchen twine or toothpicks.
- Heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the flank steak and brown it on all sides. Place the flank steak in the oven to finish cooking to your desired level of doneness (about 1o minutes for me). Place the steak under a foil tent to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
SPINACH POTATO CAKES
Makes one dozen
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup packed fresh spinach, stems removed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large Idaho potato, boiled and mashed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup canola oil
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter, melt, then add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Squeeze the spinach dry and finely chop; place in a large bowl. Add the egg and stir until well combined. Add the mashed potatoes, Parmesan, and lemon zest, and season with more salt and pepper; stir until well combined. Stir in the bread crumbs and flour until the mixture holds together. Pat into 2-inch by 1/2-inch-thick cakes.
- Pour Panko bread crumb into a shallow bowl. Coat each potato cake and press down slightly to adhere. Gently shake off any excess and transfer to a plate.
- Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the cakes and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
AMARETTO CHOCOLATE MASCARPONE CHEESECAKE BARS
Makes 9 bars
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour, divided
1/4 cup powdered sugar
8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp Amaretto
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8″ x 8″ square pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang, and set aside.
- Cut the butter into 1 cup of the flour and powdered sugar until crumbly. Press evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown.
- Meanwhile, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth. Add mascarpone and 2 Tbsp flour; beat until smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
- Gradually add sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in Amaretto. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
- Divide the batter in half. Add cocoa powder to one of the batters and mix until fully incorporated.
- Pour chocolate filling into pie shell. Carefully spoon plain Amaretto batter on top. Scatter chocolate chips if using.
- Bake cheesecake until top is golden and cake is almost set (center 2 inches will still move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 40-50 minutes. Cool cake on rack 1 hour before refrigerating uncovered overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)
- Before serving, lift out of the pan using the overhanging parchment paper before cutingt into 9 squares. Drizzle melted Nutella over the top is desired.
In case you haven’t had enough of my do-gooder-ness, I just signed up for the 7th annual Le Bonheur Children’s Pumpkin Run 5K. Second year in a row! I am participating in the race in honor of the thousands of patients served by Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital each year (my lab used to be located there until we moved this summer). If you feel like being extra generous (after all I did just finish hosting a bake sale), click here to make a donation on behalf of my team – Little Miss Spooky!
Tacos are something I whip up when I don’t have time to plan anything for dinner. I always have frozen ground beef, my trusty bag of homemade taco seasoning, and several varieties of cheese. Usually I also have most of my favorite toppings lying around from previous meals. But this time around I was lucky enough to find corn tortillas hiding in my fridge. Apparently I bought them for something and ended up never touching them, whoops! But that’s okay, they found a wonderful purpose this time around.
These taco bowls are really neat and easy to make. And they make a regular taco look fancy! I used corn tortillas, but you could use flour as well. By the way, if you don’t have two cupcake pans, cook them in two batches.
Makes 6 taco bowls
6-Six (6″) inch corn tortilla
Favorite taco fillings (taco seasoned ground beef, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomato)
- Sprinkle the tortillas with water to slightly dampen them. Stack the tortillas on one of the two plates. Cover the stack with the other plate set upside down. Microwave the tortillas between the plates for one to two minutes or until it’s warm and pliable.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Turn two 12-cup muffin pans upside down. Spray one tortilla on both sides with vegetable oil cooking spray. Lay a tortilla with the middle directly over an open space between the muffin cup bases. Push the center of the tortilla between the muffin cups to create a bowl shape. Repeat with the remaining tortillas (three per pan).
- Bake the tortillas in the preheated oven for 8 to 15 minutes or until crispy. Allow to cool 5 minutes.
- Fill the cooled taco bowls with your favorite toppings!
Don’t forget to check out my bake sale! Thirty different items to bid on for everyone to enjoy!
I think burgers are becoming my new pizza, in that the varieties are endless! After having pesto in a turkey burger I knew I had to try it in a beef burger. Is it any surprise that it was just as amazing? Because that’s all I’ve got to say about these.
I went ahead and served it with garlic parmesan fries. Yay! (Obviously I was too excited to eat to worry about the quality of the photo…)
Makes 8 burgers
1/2 cup basil pesto
2 lbs ground beef
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
3/4 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/2 – 3/4 cup marinara sauce
8 slices Mozzarella
8 buns, sliced
- In a large bowl combine the pesto, ground beef, parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and egg. Mix it just until all the ingredients are combined. Divide the mixture into 8 even burgers.
- Grill the burgers on a grill on high heat, covered, about 8 to 10 minutes, flipping once. During the last few minutes of grilling, toast your buns and top each with a slice of mozzarella, covering again to melt.
- Transfer them to the sliced buns and top with the a spoonful of marinara sauce and other burger toppings. Serve and demolish.
A quick meat sauce and some pasta was one of two meals I ate frequently during undergrad (the other was stir fry). I loved it because not only was it quick and needed few ingredients, but it made plenty of leftovers for subsequent lunches and dinners. Somehow I have less free time the past four years of graduate school, yet I cook many more things that take much more time than before. Go figure.
This dish I found from Kristin from Iowa Girl Eats, inspired by Sbarro. To me it is a pumped up version of the simple meat sauce and pasta. Now it has cheese and is baked! Even though this only takes 20 minutes longer (because of baking time), I wanted to eat my arm by the time it was done. But I had just been at spin class for 1.5 hours and food was the only thing I could think about. This may come as a surprise but this was much more satisfying than my arm could’ve ever been. And I made it with piccolini farfalle! They are just too darn cute to not enjoy.
BAKED MINI BOWTIES
16 oz. (1 box) piccolini farfalle (mini bowtie) pasta
3/4 lb. 90/10 ground beef
1 cup shredded and 1 cup sliced* fresh Mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1 jar marinara sauce
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until just under al dente (it will continue to cook in the oven.) Drain and return to the pot.
- Meanwhile, season ground beef with garlic salt & pepper and brown in a pan over medium-high heat. Drain and add to the pasta.
- Add 1 cup shredded Mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and marinara sauce to the pasta and beef. Mix to combine.
- Pour into a non-stick sprayed 9×13″ pan and top with sliced Mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Sprinkle with parsley.
*You can use all shredded Mozzarella, I just thought it looked pretty to have globs of melted Mozzarella on top.
Source: Iowa Girl Eats
I had been craving a French dip sandwich for a very, very long time. And when I found this recipe using a slow cooker I knew it was the one for me. Except for the fact that after working in the lab all day and then going to the gym immediately after, 6-7 hours of cooking time has long been passed. So how do I solve this problem? Boyfriend to the rescue!
Before he started his new job he was at home most days of the week, so I put him to work! I think I was pretty easy on him for this one. Throw a bunch of stuff in a pot at noon, turn it on and we will have something tasty for dinner! But then I had to do the dishes because that’s the rule. S/He who cooks dinner is exempt from dishes. Not a problem though because my craving was finally fulfilled by this delicious sandwich.
1 medium yellow onion
3/4 cup beef broth/stock
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp creole mustard
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
~3lb chuck roast
Salt & pepepr
6-8 sandwich rolls, split
6-8 slices of Swiss cheese
- Slice the onion into ~1/4-inch rounds. Keeping the rounds intact, place them in the bottom of the crockpot.
- Add beef broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and garlic to the crockpot.
- Salt and pepper both sides of the roast and place on top of the onions.
- Cook on low 6-7 hours until beef is fall-apart tender.
- Transfer the roast to a cutting board and thinly slice.
- Remove the onions and set aside. I strain the juice into a large “defatter” measuring cup and get rid of the oil that collects on top.
- Return the roast, juice, and onions to the crockpot for up to an hour before serving (I usually switch it to “Keep Warm” so it doesn’t continue cooking).
- Heat the broiler. Place the split sandwich rolls on a lined baking sheet and toast for 1 minute or just until the bread begins to brown.
- Remove the tops from the pan. Lay the beef on the bottom of the rolls and top with cheese.
- Return to the oven just until cheese is melted. Top with sandwich halves and serve with small bowls of jus.
Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride
For some reason I always feel like I don’t eat enough red meat, so when I saw this recipe I immediately wanted to make it. Especially since it sounded really good and easy. I couldn’t for the life of me find broccolini so I was forced to just use broccoli. Where on earth is that stuff in a grocery store anyway?? Not in the produce section or frozen even. Maybe it’s a specialty store item, boo. I can’t imagine it really changed anything other than the appearance. After all, the flavors of this dish were perfect (hoisin sauce FTW) and cleanup was a snap!
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 lb top round, thinly sliced and cut into 12 strips
8 scallions, cut into 3-inch-long pieces
1-1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup instant brown rice
1 lb broccolini
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- Heat grill. Fold four 18-inch-long pieces of foil in half; unfold and coat inside with cooking spray.
- Combine hoisin, soy sauce, vinegar and oil in a bowl; coat beef with marinade. Place a handful of scallions and carrots on end of 1 strip of beef (tips should hang over edges of meat); roll up beef to enclose vegetables and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining beef, scallions and carrots.
- Place 1/4 cup rice in center of 1 half of each piece of foil; top rice with 3 beef rolls each. Surround rice and beef in each packet with 1/4 of broccolini; season all with salt and pepper.
- Fold foil to close and crimp 2 sides of each packet, leaving 1 side open; pour 1/4 cup broth into each packet. Crimp third side of packets to seal; place on grill; close lid; cook until packets are fully puffed, 10 minutes. Carefully cut foil to open; serve.
Source: SELF Magazine