Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beef stew and Potato Rolls

We had another big snow storm here in pittsburgh and of course with snow we always crave comfort food.  Here in the east nothing says comfort food like Beef stew and fresh potato rolls.

Beef Stew
2 lbs beef stew meat cut in small pieces
1 tablespoon Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet Paprika
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dry parsley flakes
1/2 cup - 1 cup flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 cups of beef stock
3 large carrots peeled  cut into thick slices
3 stalks celery peeled and sliced with leafs
3 potatoes i like a red baby or  white idaho potato cut into mid sized chunks
1 medium sized white or yellow onion roughly chopped
white mushrooms sliced and roughly chopped

Cut meat into bite sized pieces set aside.
Mix next 5 ingredients and sprinkle on meat coating evenly.  Coat flour on meat mixing well into meat, the flour should just  dispappear into the meat.  Refrigerate meat for 30 minutes or more to marinate meat.
Heat vegetable oil til just hot and braise meat til meat slightly browns.  Slowly add stock, carrots,celery, potatoes,onion.  Let cook and simmer for an hour til carrots and potatoes are almost tender , then add mushrooms cook an additional 30 minutes.  Serve.  This makes a thick stew and you like a thinner stew add more broth.
Potato rolls

1/2 cup warm water 105-115 degrees(I like it around 110 degrees)
.25 ounce envelope rapid rise yeast (I used the gluten free)
2.5 teaspoons of sugar
2/3 cup melted butter slightly warm
1/2 cup warm milk
1 cup slightly warm mashed potatoes(you may use prepared instant)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups of flour I use a combination of white whole wheat and white all purpose

Mix the 2 teaspoons sugar and envelope of yeast together and then sprinkle over warm water in a small bowl.    Let sit about 10 min covered with tea towel.  When it is foaming or bubbling it is activated.  See below

.Place yeast mixture in your mixing bowl, add your warm milk, whole eggs,remaining  sugar and butter and mix til just combined.  Slowly add your flour.  When your mixture becomes still sticky but starting to form into dough switch to your dough hook if you have one for your mixture.
I usually add around 4 cups to 4.5 cups til it is ready to removed from the bowl and then for about five minutes knead by hand til it becomes soft and feel elastic and smooth.  
Place in a well greased bowl and let rise for 90 min or til about doubled.  Punch down.  Roll into 24 balls around 2 ounces each and place on well greased baking sheet and rise about 90 min or doubled.  Brush with an egg wash mixture of 1 whole egg and a little milk just prior to baking.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes til slighlty browned on bottom and just browning on top.
makes 24 large dinner rolls

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How to make perfect mashed potatoes

Is there anything as perfect as mashed potatoes at a home cooked meal.  It is truely the ultimate comfort food.  It is perfection with a dab of butter and ultimate with your home made gravy.  It is probally one of the first foods we feed our babies when we try to convert them from jarred food to people food.  Mashed potatoes are so simple but everyones version of the mashed potato can be as different as their personality.  They are not hard to make but for years I struggled for the right combination.  After 27 years of trying,  my aunt caroline taught me the mystery of the perfect mashed potatoes.  Go ahead serve the gravy but with this recipe all you need for perfection is a plate and spoon.
I think the key is adding the hot cream mixture to the hot potatoes and it makes the difference.

Perfect mashed potatoes
4 pounds of golden yukon potoatoes(any will do but these make a creamier blend) peeled and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons of Salt
2 cups heavy cream or fresh whole milk
1 stick butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a large pot cover with cold water and add 2 tablespoon salt.  Let come to boil over medium high heat until potatoes are tender about 20 minutes.  Drain the water from the potatoes.  My aunt uses a food mill to mash the potatoes I just use an old fashioned masher and roughly mash the potato.  Cover to keep warm.  In the meantime While mashing the potato I use a small pot on a low heat melt the butter and add the heavy cream salt and pepper to taste.  When about ready to come to a boil when it just starts to simmer I slowly pour the hot cream mixture in the potatoes and them mix on high with a hand held mixer.  Add more salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Apricot-Pecan Sweet Potatoes

  • The Sweet Potato is one of the most perfect foods.  It is packed full of vitamins and minerals as well as being an all natural anti-inflammatory super food.  You could substitute it in any potato recipe though at first may seem a little odd.  
  • This is a recipe I originally got from my aunt Birdie.  She has been making this at every holiday I remember and been a part of our meals for over 10 years.  It's a bit different take on the sweet potato.

Apricot pecan sweet potato

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup apricot nectar
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  1. Place the sweet potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  3. Mix together brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, apricot nectar, water, and orange peel in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. When the sauce is thick, stir in the butter and pecans. Place the sweet potato chunks into the prepared baking dish, and pour the sauce over to coat all the potatoes.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until tender and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Family dinner

I have 3 beautiful daughters.  My oldest 2 are in college while my youngest who is 20 and going to school close to home.  The older girls  are over 1 hour away but they try to make it home for sunday dinner.
Sundays are lazy around here.  I usually spend saturdays up at the boarding stable riding  my gelding "Cowboy"  and giving my mare "Sweetheart" who is expecting some much pampered time.  Nick my husband then uses sundays for his man time and goes to his shooting/hunting club on sundays.
In decades past, large Sunday dinners with relatives were widespread traditions.  Even when I was young I can remember my grandmother in her apron and my aunts in the kitchen starting the meal in the morning before we went to church and continuing the meal when we got home.  My uncles either was watching the Dallas cowboys on tv, or coming in from a short day of hunting on our farm.  The kids were playing in the backyard, we rarely watched tv and always found a way to occupy ourselves with either hide and seek or just being  on the wood swings in the back yard.  I think today things are just too fast paced we get disconnected.  Kids and adults have too many activities, tv and game playing with the wii or xbox becomes a priority.
  I always make a nice sunday dinner.   My husband was born in pittsburgh and of italian heritage and loves italian food.  I try to incorporate both traditions  down home country girl and Italian city boy and it seems to have worked we have been married for 27 years and our girls still come home for sunday dinner.

 The braciole recipe I have below is really simple but it is the staple of the italian meal.


1 package round steak
1/2 cup italian bread crumbs
6 cloves garlic peeled.
1 small white onion chopped finely
3 sprigs of parsley leaves finely chopped
1/2 cup romano cheese
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil(best you can afford)
salt and pepper to taste
butcher twine in four pieces.

Mince 3 cloves of garlic and set the other 3 cloves aside.  In a mixing bowl combine the italian bread crumbs, 3 minced cloves of garlic, chopped onion, italian parsley, olive oil and romano cheese.
Open the package of round steak and cut into 4 pieces.  Salt and pepper each piece of steak.  Sprinkle mixture on each steak leaving about 1/2 inch free on each side.
Roll tightly jelly roll style each piece with out squeezing any breadcrumb mixture.  Now  with the butcher twine,wrap tightly and tye.   I usually do 3 times each side width of the steak and then length of each steak.
Now with some more olive oil about 4 tablespoon brown each braciole in a pan, turning on all sides in pan and browning slightly.  I usually use the same pot I plan on making my italian sauce with, or another skillet.  Be sure to save the drippings though for your sauce.  When your sauce is prepared place braciole and simmer for 2-3 hours.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter nesting

I don't know why january just brings out the home body in me.  The cold weather makes me want to bake. I love a full freezer of meat and baked goods which is probally why I love to can.
Any how, These mustard rolls I have been making for around 20 years.  I got the recipe from my grandmother rebecca and tweaked it to my taste and convenience.  Granny used to grow mustard and then grind the herb in the rolls.  I actually like my version better.  These are fantastic on hamburgers any time of year.

Hot mustard onion Rolls

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
  • 2 cups warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F)
  • 3 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 3 tablespoons prepared mustard
    (I like the hottest I can find Guldens dark brown mustard is a good one!)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour 
  • parmesan cheese for sprinkling
    1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add milk, onion, mustard, oil, sugar, salt and 4 cups flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down; divide into 12 pieces Flatten each piece into a 3-in. circle. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese .  Place 1 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Just a lil bit about me.

I was born and raised in Marlin Texas which is about 20 min from Waco.  Marlin is known for it's most incredible mineral water from the natural water falls that flow there.  Actually people still come from all over the state for its wonderful healing properites.  I really never knew that til I was talking with my aunt over the holidays.  I remember the water being so fresh and clean but like every kid growning up there thinking that just is how water  taste.
 I just turned 50 and recently semi-retired, I am a nurse.  We had a horse farm we recently sold, still living in the country but not as much secluded.  My horses are boarded at a nearby farm in volant pa which majority of the residents are amish, horse and buggy land for sure.
I also make handmade soap mostly from goats milk.  It is something I ventured into over 3 years ago and found I was really good at, it allows me to be creative when in the past did not feel I could be.  I am just starting to make a business of it "Three rivers soaps" and this year will be experimenting on other body products like shampoo, goats milk lotion and sprays.  I also am just starting matching candles.  I go to local craft fairs and the butler farm market in the spring through fall.
I wanted to start this blog mostly because I have so many recipes of my grandma rebecca and aunts birdy and caroline to start a library of cookbooks.  They do not all belong to them i also have a collection of recipes i have tried over the years and really just wanted a online place to store them.  I plan on getting back to basics, making good old fashioned food some healthy some not but please comment if you read my blog.