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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
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


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.)

Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce

Beef Brisket

Beef brisket and pulled pork are favorites in this household.  As I was making beef brisket for dinner the other night, I realized the post I had on this was ancient and needed some updating!  Although I wasn’t able to capture the best photo, it certainly beats what I previously shared…in 2007.

This is a great meal to put together for when you want to prep in advance, throw it in a crock pot and forget about it until that great smell fills the house.  You have your choice to cook it on low for 10 to 12 hours, or on high for 5 to 6 hours, whichever best fits your schedule!

Beef Brisket

The fun part of this recipe is making the barbecue sauce.  That sounds strange, I know.  But, I never knew how simple and delicious homemade BBQ sauce could be!  I love making it and using leftovers for BBQ Chicken Pizza among other things.

The not-so-fun part is that we’re never left with many leftovers of the meat.  It’s so delicious, and we eat it RIGHT up!  Not so good for wanting to indulge in it again the next day.  But, maybe you’re not a leftovers kind of person anyway. In which case, this is right up your alley!

Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce

Printable Recipe

Yield: 6 servings

For the marinade:
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon instant beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2-pound fresh beef brisket

For the BBQ sauce:
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter

In a medium bowl, mix together the water, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, bouillon granules, dry mustard, chili powder, red pepper and garlic.  Reserve 1/2 cup liquid for the BBQ sauce; set aside and store in the fridge until later.  Place meat in a 4 quart crock pot.  Pour remaining liquid over brisket.

Cover the crock pot and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.

Near the end of the cooking time, make the BBQ sauce.  In a small saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup reserved liquid, ketchup, brown sugar and butter.  Cook until heated through.  Remove from heat and whisk until sauce thickens and becomes smooth.  Serve with the cooked brisket.

Source:  New Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book

Shredded Beef Chimichangas

Shredded Beef Chimichangas

Mexican food was never a regular part of my life until Ben also became a regular.  See, my family’s choice restaurant and food was Italian as I was growing up.  I can’t even remember one time when my parents took us out to have Mexican.

Enter Ben…whose family adores Mexican food and would often go out to enjoy it together as a treat.  As we were dating and during our first few years of marriage, there were numerous times we dined out with his family at a Mexican restaurant, much to my disappointment.  What did I order?  I typically stuck with quesadillas or something as Americanized as possible.  🙂

Incidentally, in the past couple of years and after continuous visits to more authentic Mexican restaurants, I decided to give in, branch out, and try some new dishes.  To my surprise, I actually now like Mexican.  It still isn’t my first choice when choosing what I want to eat (who prefers a side order of beans and rice over fries?), but I’m not thoroughly opposed to it anymore.

Now that we live in the Southwest, I feel a bit obligated to enhance my cooking skills in Mexican food.  Additionally, Pennies on a Platter has made it to the next round of Project Food Blog (thank you for your votes!) and the next challenge is to make a dish from another culture, that I’m not as familiar with.  So, this is my challenge post.

In order to stay true to my Pennies on a Platter theme, I was opposed to picking a dish that would force me to buy a bunch of ingredients with the likelihood of Ben and I not even enjoying the meal.  That would definitely be a waste of money!  So, I asked Ben for his favorite Mexican dish and he came up with Chimichangas.  My response?  “What the heck is that?”

After some research, I learned that Chimichangas are merely fried burritos.  I chose a Mexican flavored shredded beef recipe that I’ve never made before to use as the filling, along with some Monterey Jack cheese.  After rolling these ingredients into the tortilla, the burritos are quickly fried on all sides then served with your choice of toppings, including salsa, sour cream, lettuce, guacamole, etc.

What did Ben think?  He said they were the best Chimichangas he’s ever had!  Wow!  I really enjoyed them, as well.  I loved the crispy tortilla wrapped around the deliciously flavored beef (this shredded beef recipe is definitely a keeper!)  I’m so glad I branched out from my comfort zone and made such an easy dish that I know we’ll continue to enjoy, when I thought it would be so challenging!  It proves that I need to dive into new recipes more often.  🙂

You need to make the meat ahead of time, as it is prepared in a slow cooker for 6- 8 hours.  I had it cooking during the night.  It was a late night preparing the meat, as I was also prepping some pumpkin waffle batter to enjoy with friends the next morning.  Imagine what my kitchen looked like late at night as I was preparing both of these recipes at the same time.  Well, you don’t have to imagine…just take a look:

Messy Kitchen

Voting for this challenge starts tomorrow, September 27 at 6AM Pacific Time and ends September 30 at 6 PM Pacific Time.  Thanks, again, for your votes!  Hope you can make this recipe and enjoy it as much as we did!

Shredded Beef Chimichangas

Printable Recipe

Yield: 6 chimichangas

4 – 6 Tbs olive oil, divided
2 lb boneless chuck roast
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup beef stock (or broth)
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (original calls for 1, but next time I’m using 2)
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced (original calls for 3, but I love garlic)
flour tortillas
choice of toppings – lettuce, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, etc.

To make the shredded beef:

Combine the spices in a small bowl.  Rub into the beef, covering all the nooks and crannies and each side evenly.

In a large skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil until shimmering.  Sear the meat on each side, using tongs to flip it.  Remove and place in the bottom of a large slow cooker.

With the skillet remaining over the heat, deglaze with the beef stock and scrape up any brown bits.  Whisk in the tomato paste and chipotle peppers.  Once sauce comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until slightly thickened and reduced.

Meanwhile, add the onion and garlic to the top of the beef in the slow cooker.  Carefully pour the sauce over top.  Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Once the meat is fork tender, remove and shred with two forks.   Pour a portion of the sauce, including the onions, over top of the meat and let soak to enhance flavor.

To make the Chimichangas:

Heat 3-4 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until shimmering.

While waiting for the oil to heat up, warm the tortillas in the microwave for 10 – 20 seconds.  Fill with a few tablespoons of shredded beef and about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.  Roll the tortilla into a burrito shape.

Once the oil is heated, place the burritos (2-3 at a time) into the skillet and brown on each side until golden.  Start with the seam side down first.

Place on paper towel lined plate to drain any excess oil.  Serve with desired toppings.

Source:  Shredded Beef adapted from Gimme Some Oven and My Kitchen Addiction. Chimichanga recipe inspired from Real Mom Kitchen.

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork

We love pulled pork, yet I had never made it until this weekend.  I really can’t even tell you why it took me this long to put it on the menu plan.

Last Christmas I was given The Pioneer Woman’s cook book.  It’s a great book to not only grab recipes from, but also an enjoyment to read through.  In fact, I spent most of my time reading it until now, and finally started diving into making some of the recipes.  This being one of them.

Pulled Pork

Aside from having to turn the meat every hour (which can be a tiny bit annoying) this pulled pork recipe is extremely easy!  The flavor is oh.so.wonderful as well.  We’ll be making this over and over and over and over (do I sound like a 60’s rock song?).

The Pioneer Woman pegs this as her Spicy Shredded Pork.  I didn’t think it was necessarily spicy (and ever since my pregnancy, I’ve been super sensitive to spicy food.)  Plus, I’m more familiar with the term “pulled pork” rather than “shredded”, although it’s the same thing.

Pulled PorkYou can use this dish in many ways.  This time, we made sandwiches one day and threw them in tortillas another.  Ben and I both ate more than a generous portion each time, if that tells you anything. 😉

Pulled Pork

Printable Recipe

One 5 to 7-pound pork shoulder roast (or butt roast as it’s called in my grocery store)
1 onion, quartered
1 Tbs chili powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 to 2 Tbs salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
3 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 300˚F.

Rinse the pork and pat dry.  Pulse the onion, chili powder, brown sugar, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar in a food processor until thoroughly combined.

Place the roast into a very large roasting pan.  Pour the marinade over the pork and, using your hands, rub into every nook and cranny.  Flip the pork and repeat.  Add 2 cups water to the pan.  Cover tightly with foil and roast for 6 to 7 hours, flipping once every hour.

Once the meat is fork tender, use a large spoon to scoop out most of the juices and reserve in a heat-proof bowl.  (I do this because the juice tends to thicken/solidify too much during this next step.) Increase the oven temperature to 400˚F and roast the pork uncovered and skin side up for 20 minutes, or until the skin is crispy.  Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.

Use two forks to pull apart the meat.  Place on a large platter and pour reserved juice over top.  Let juice sink into the shredded meat and set to enhance flavor and increase tenderness.

Serve as you wish.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks  (Book and Blog)