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Beef Braised in Red Wine

Beef Braised in Red WineWhen I saw this recipe posted on Beantown Baker, I immediately bookmarked it for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, Judah was very sick that day and didn’t let me accomplish one thing in the kitchen, so we had romantic take-out instead. 🙂 But, I was able to make it the day after so all was well. And, very well indeed because this dish is super delicious! Really, the photo definitely does not do it justice. (I have a very hard time taking photos of meat!)

I neglected to notice that the recipe called for more than one bottle of wine. There was no way I was running back out, but luckily for me I also didn’t buy as much meat, either. So, one bottle worked perfectly for my 2.3 lb roast. Instead of six servings, it made four, which is a much better portion for the two of us.

While the meat was roasting, I was in much anticipation just from the aroma it was leaving in our house. At my first bite, the meat was bursting with cinnamon flavor, yet not so powerful that it was a turn-off. Ben declared this as one of his favorite meals.

I didn’t have fresh rosemary on hand, and just ended up using some dried Italian seasoning instead.  It worked perfectly.  Plus, the bottle of wine I used was the cheap “two-buck Chuck” Merlot from Trader Joe’s.  (I love that it really is only $2.00 now that we live in California.  It was $3.00 in Illinois.)  Honestly, you don’t need to use anything more expensive.  Save your money.  We loved it!

Beef Braised in Red Wine

Printable Recipe

Yield:  4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (2.5-pound) boneless beef chuck roast, rinsed and patted dry
salt
black pepper
3 ounces pancetta, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 medium carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 bottle (3 1/2 cups) dry red wine (e.g., Cabernet, Merlot, etc.)
2 cups chicken stock
2 springs rosemary (or 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning)
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

Rub salt and pepper into both sides of the meat.  Using a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Sear the meat in Dutch oven on all sides for 2-3 minutes each.  Remove from the pot and set aside.

To the fat in the pan, add the pancetta and saute until browned, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the onions, carrots, celery and pinch of salt.  Saute until caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Return the beef to the pan and pour in the wine and chicken stock.  Add the bay leaves, rosemary (or Italian seasoning) along with the cinnamon stick.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover tightly and transfer the pot to the oven.

Bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, turning roast every 30 minutes, until meat is fully tender and is starting to fall apart at the touch of a fork.  Transfer the meat to a heat-proof serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

Meanwhile, remove the rosemary, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick and place the pot over high heat.  Cook the sauce for about 10 minutes.  Ladle about 1/2 cup of the sauce into a small bowl and mix with the cornstarch until fully incorporated.  Slowly stir the 1/2 cup sauce and cornstarch mixture back into the pot.  Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thickened.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Uncover the meat and cut against the grain into thin slices.  Pour the thickened sauce over the meat on the platter and serve.

Source: Beantown Baker, originally from Emeril

Creamy Chicken Pockets

Creamy Chicken Pockets2

I dug this one out of my recipe posts from 2008 because it is a meal we enjoy often and really needs to be brought back to your attention. With the blog aged over 4 years now, there are many recipes lost in the archives that I’d love to re-photograph (is that a word?) and rewrite. It would take forever to do so, but I’m placing the ones we absolutely love in the forefront. I’ll start with this Creamy Chicken Pockets recipe.

Chicken Pockets3

Once in a while I’ll have some boneless chicken breasts in the fridge that need to be used up quickly before going bad the next day.  This typically happens when I veer away from my meal plan and end up not using everything from my grocery list.  (Doesn’t happen often, no worries.)  If chicken is one of the items, then I will roast it in the oven and shred it or cube it for another use.  More than likely, I will save it either for my Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos or these Creamy Chicken Pockets, both of which are favorites in this house.

If you already have the chicken cooked and prepared, this is a great weeknight meal.  Just toss it in the skillet with the garlic and onions for a few minutes and you’re ready to quickly whip up the filling.  Even if you have to cook the chicken yet, it is still pretty fast to put together.  Trust me, this is the main reason we have it so often.  🙂

Creamy Chicken Pockets

Printable Recipe

Yield:  8 pockets, 3-4 servings

2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 small chicken breasts, diced
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs, optional

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the chicken with the onions and garlic.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1 tablespoon melted butter until smooth.  Stir in the cooked chicken, onions and garlic.  Add the salts, pepper and milk.  Mix well.

Separate the crescent roll dough into the eight triangles.  Dollop a tablespoon of filling into the center of each triangle and fold the corners up to seal.  Press and seal firmly.  Place on ungreased baking sheet or stone and repeat with the remaining dough and filling.  Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with the bread crumbs (optional).

Bake for 11 – 13 minutes, or until golden brown.

Recipe Note:  To heat up leftovers, bake in a preheated 350˚F oven for 10 minutes.

Source:  Adapted from AllRecipes

Strawberry Valentine Cupcakes

Valentine Strawberry CupcakesThese strawberry cupcakes are not new to Pennies on a Platter.  In fact, they are probably the favorite cupcake in our household.  I first made them a few years ago for Ben’s graduation party where they were a huge hit.  Since then, they have made an appearance in my oven quite a few times.  This week was no exception.  After making the heart shaped cookies (see previous post), I couldn’t resist but to also make miniature hearts to adorn the top of our favorite cupcakes.

I brought these to our neighbor’s Superbowl party.  Since the Bears fell short in making it to the big game, and I could care less about either team, I decided I wasn’t in the mood to bring something with a football theme.  I was over that.  Instead, it was more fun to bring a little girlyness (I make up words all the time) to the party and speed up the arrival of Valentine’s Day.

Valentines Strawberry Cupcakes2Everyone seemed to really enjoy the cupcakes.  There was so much yummy food at the party, that I really forgot about pitying myself regarding the Bears and instead enjoyed chomping on whatever I could fit in my stomach!  🙂  Plus, did you see that adorable Darth Vader commercial?  That cute little kid made the Superbowl for me.

Click the links below for the recipes.  The frosting is a little more pink than what shows in the photos above.  I added more powdered sugar to thicken it up this time in order to hold the cookie toppers, causing the pink color to fade.  You can also add food coloring to achieve your desired level of pink.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
Sugar Cookie Hearts

Guacamole

GuacamoleAre you ready for the Super Bowl?  I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but it’s only been in the last year that I started to like guacamole.  Ben has loved it since he was a young boy, and every time he ate it I could not understand why he liked it so much.  Again, maybe I just never tried good guacamole, or maybe I wasn’t open enough to the taste, but now I love it.  Lately, it seems we’ve been making it once a week around here.  That might have something to do with it being football season…

GuacamoleThis guacamole recipe can work as a base for you.  The other day I asked a friend of mine, who grew up in Mexico, how he likes his guacamole.  He said they just mash up the avocados and eat it plain or throw in whatever they have on hand.  The Pioneer Woman would tell you to make her favorite Pico de Gallo, which includes jalapenos, and then throw that into some mashed up avocados.  It really is as simple as that.  And, it’s good.

What do you put in your guacamole?

Guacamole

Printable Recipe

Yield: 4-6 servings

3 avocados, peeled and pitted
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
ground cayenne pepper, to taste (about a pinch)

In a medium bowl, mash the avocados, lime juice and salt together with a potato masher or a fork. Stir in the tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro.  Season with red pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or serve immediately.

Source: AllRecipes

Spicy Chili

Spicy ChiliI’m a new fan of chili and this recipe is responsible for my change of heart.  In the past, I would shy away from chili because it just wasn’t appealing to me.  Although I would eat beans in other similar dishes (think Taco Soup) I would always use my dislike for them as my excuse for not eating chili.  Weird, I know.

The real reason probably lies within the fact that I just never tried good chili.  Now that I’ve had this dish, I can honestly say I love chili.  Love is a strong word, so that should tell you a lot about this recipe.  I first had it over Thanksgiving vacation after my friend picked me up from the airport and made it for dinner.  Before we arrived to her home, she explained it was our mutual guy friend’s recipe, which immediately piqued my curiosity.  I’m always intrigued when a male shares a recipe! 😉

Spicy Chili

Later that night, I called Ben to tell him how much I like chili now, knowing he’ll be pleased that I’ll finally start making it at home.  I was super excited to also reveal that it was our friend’s recipe, but when I did he wasn’t surprised at all.  In fact, he went on to tell ME that he had our friend’s chili already during guy’s poker night a while back and loved it!  To me, that was further inspiration to start making this pot of yummy goodness at home.

The great thing about chili is that anything goes!  (Which is ironic for me to say, because I’m pretty sure that might be the other real reason I didn’t like chili in the first place.  Anything goes?? Yikes!)  What I mean is, you can alter it to your tastes, including the flavor, meatiness, heat, etc.  For example, our friend who shared the recipe said that he will sometimes dice up some jalapeno’s or shake in an extra dash of red pepper for a little more spice.

Ranch Style BeansThis recipe calls for Ranch Style Beans that are very popular in Texas, where our friend is originally from.  Apparently these are not easily available in some places, but they are plentiful here in SoCal.  I took a photo of them so you know what to look for.  If you can’t find them on your shelf, any chili beans will do.  However, it was recommended to use Bush’s medium heat chili beans for the most flavor IF the Ranch Style Beans are not available.

Although I’m enjoying sunny and 70 degree weather right now, I know there are many of you ready to escape the cold blistery winter by indulging in a nice hot cup of this chili.  I’ve been there and done that for 20+ years.  Just don’t have to do it anymore! 🙂  Enjoy!

Spicy Chili

Printable Recipe

Yield:  6-8 servings

2 lb ground beef
2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 can Ranch Style Beans, undrained
2 cups water
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne red pepper

Saute’ the ground beef, garlic and onion in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.  Cook until beef is browned, then drain extra grease.  Mix in the beans and remaining ingredients.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour.

Make-Ahead (Crock Pot):  You can also cook this in a crock pot for 6 to 8 hours.  I prefer the crock pot method by browning the meat and dicing the onions ahead of time then storing in the freezer.  When the day comes that I’m ready to make chili, I throw the meat and onions into the pot with the rest of the ingredients then forget about it until dinner.

Source: Brian Wiese, friend of Pennies on a Platter

(This month we are giving back to the King family.  Visit Pennies on a Platter from January 1st to 31st to increase the blog hits which will in turn raise more money for Veronica and her children.  Please read this post for more information. You may also make a monetary donation by clicking on the PayPal button in the left hand column above.)

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

Chicago-Style Deep Dish PizzaSix months ago we listened to God’s calling for a ministry position and moved across the country, far away from our beloved city of Chicago.  Since then, we have missed many friends, family, landmarks and (more or less importantly) certain foods!  Chicago-style pizza is on the top of this list.

Yesterday, we were excited to root our Chicago Bears on to victory in the NFC conference championship, hoping to see them again in two weeks at the Super Bowl.  Unfortunately, the big V fell in the laps of a certain Wisconsin cheese-head team, but this didn’t change the fact that there was a big win in my kitchen with homemade Chicago-style pizza!

Chicago-Style Deep Dish PizzaIn Chicago, you primarily find two kinds of pie battling to be THE “Chicago-style” pizza.  Talk to a person who grew up in one side of Chicago and they will tell you that “Chicago-style” pizza is stuffed pizza, which has two layers of crust.  The popular chains Giordano’s and Nancy’s are known for this type of pizza.  Talk to another Chicagoan who is from the opposite end of town and they beg to differ, claiming deep dish is the authentic Chicago-style pizza, such as what is served at Pizzeria Uno and Lou Malnati’s.  I love both equally, but this weekend I made deep dish for my first attempt at homemade Chicago-style pizza.  Plus, I’ve been told Pizzeria Uno is the original by more than one person, so I’m leaning towards deep dish claiming the title.

This pizza was spot-on, delicious!  The crust was even better than at the restaurants, and the sauce was so perfectly reminiscent of the chunky tangy tomato sauces we enjoyed back in the Midwest.  Don’t even get me started on the ooey gooey yummy cheese!  Just after my first bite, I knew I would be making this even more often than we ever ordered it as take-out back home.

Chicago-Style Deep Dish PizzaThe dough recipe uses a method called “laminate”, which means pressing together alternating layers of butter and dough.  Typically, you roll out the dough, spread butter on top, then fold the dough on top of each other and repeat.  This method is found in many pastry recipes, giving the dough a flaky/puffy, yet crispy texture.  For this pizza dough, the steps were a little different than I’m used to when laminating for pastries, but it turned out a wonderfully flaky crust.  Do not let the laminating step shy you away!  It is much more simple than it sounds.

Originally, I was not going to share this recipe with you today.  But, after multiple requests from many of my Facebook friends, I decided to move it up in the schedule so you can soon make this at home and taste a piece of heaven.  🙂

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

Printable Recipe

Yield: One 9-inch deep dish pizza (3-4 servings)

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons grated onion
Pinch of dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 (14.5 oz) can petite-diced tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
Ground black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste

For assembling and topping:
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces Mozzarella, shredded (about 2 cups)
1/4 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 tablespoons)

To make the dough:
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, until well blended.  Attach the dough hook and mix in the water and melted butter on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.  Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is glossy and smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Coat a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.  Transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat with oil.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Once dough is risen, turn it out onto a dry work surface and roll into an 8- x 6-inch rectangle.  To laminate the dough, spread the softened butter over the surface, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge.  Starting at the short end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder.  With the seam side down, flatten the cylinder into a 9- x 2-inch rectangle, then fold into thirds like a business letter.  Pinch the seams to form a ball, and return to the oiled bowl.  Cover tightly again with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator for 40 to 50 minutes.  (Mine did not double in size, but it rose to about size and a half.)

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in the onion, oregano and salt.  Saute until the liquid has nearly evaporated and the onion is golden brown, stirring often, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomatoes and sugar, then increase the heat to medium-high.  Bring the mixture just to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the basil and oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble and top the pizza:
Preheat oven to 425˚F.  Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil.  Move the dough to a dry work surface and roll out into a 13-inch disk about 1/4-inch thick.  Carefully transfer the dough to the pan and lightly press to line the bottom of the pan and 1 inch up the sides.  If the dough resists stretching, wait 5 minutes before trying again.

Sprinkle the shredded Mozzarella over the surface of the dough, then layer the sauce over the cheese.  Top with Parmesan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden brown.  Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Recipe Note: This recipe is for one 9-inch deep dish pizza, whereas the original is for two.  I altered some of the steps as I found I didn’t need as much time for kneading the dough, cooking the sauce, or baking the pizza.  These changes are reflected in my version above.  If you double this recipe, your times may increase significantly for cooking the sauce, and slightly for kneading and baking.

To Make Ahead: Prepare the dough up until the time of baking.  Store in fridge overnight, or freeze and thaw in fridge.  When ready to bake, place pan in oven while preheating so that it warms up slowly.  Once oven is preheated to 425˚F, bake for 20 more minutes, until crust is golden brown.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2010

(This month we are giving back to the King family.  Visit Pennies on a Platter from January 1st to 31st to increase the blog hits which will in turn raise more money for Veronica and her children.  Please read this post for more information. You may also make a monetary donation by clicking on the PayPal button in the left hand column above.)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip CookiesYes, this is another cookie recipe.  I told you I’m addicted! Not much to say about these because they are just this recipe with chocolate chips instead of raisins.  Ben declared these as his favorite cookies the night I first made these.  (Here’s a hint: He says that about every cookie I’ve made lately!)  Flattering, but proof that he’s easy to please.  🙂

I think these are best eaten right out of the oven.  Just don’t burn your tongue. Instead, let them cool for at least 5 minutes then go ahead and indulge while the chocolate is still melted.  Yum!  You can also turn them into sandwich cookies, which is another one of Ben’s faves!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Printable Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla with a hand held mixer until well blended. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, stirring until just combined.

Fold in rolled oats and chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto a cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Annie’s Eats originally from Deborah’s Culinary Confections

(This month we are giving back to the King family.  Visit Pennies on a Platter from January 1st to 31st to increase the blog hits which will in turn raise more money for Veronica and her children.  Please read this post for more information. You may also make a monetary donation by clicking on the PayPal button in the left hand column above.)