Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Welcome Fall and Comfort Food

My favorite time of the year is here, I love fall.  One thing I do love about Utah is getting to see the changing colors of the leaves and up on the mountain I get to see some stunning colors.  I will be sharing photos very soon.

My other fall favorites are football, cool crisp air, snuggling up in flannels and comfort food. Even though we have a few hot days left I'm looking ahead and have noticed we have temperature that will be hitting freezing.  This coming weekend it will be time for me to bring in my 3 dwarf fruit trees and my herbs so I do not loose them to the cold. I keep them in the dining room so they will still get some sun in the afternoon throughout the winter.

In honor of fall I made a comfort food favorite Vegetable Beef Soup. I decided to change things up and roast the vegetables instead of cooking them in the soup.  I still need carrots, celery and onions to flavor my soup base so some of the vegetables went into the soup at the beginning and the roasted vegetables went into the soup at the end. I love a lot of vegetables in my soup and I piled them in. I was very pleased with the end result.

Roasted Vegetable Beef Soup

Soup Base

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced small
1 small onion, diced small
4 stalks celery with leaves, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 all purpose flour
1 teaspoons seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
10 cups water (or beef broth)
11 teaspoons Beef - Better Than Bouillon (omit if using beef broth)
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Roasted Vegetables

5 medium red potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
4 carrots, cut into bite size pieces
1 1/2 yellow onion, cut into bite size pieces
12 small to medium cremini mushrooms, cut in half or quarter depending on size
extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced divided
pinch salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. In a large dutch oven heat olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add diced carrots, onions, celery, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves. Sauté for 5 to 8 minutes. In a small bowl combine flour, salt, pepper, seasoning salt and paprika. Sprinkle flour mixture over beef pieces making sure all of beef is covered. Push vegetables over to one side and add the beef in a single layer as best as it will fit, cook on one side for 3 minutes, flip over and cook for another 3 minutes.  Stir beef and vegetables together for 5 minutes, add water and Better Than Bouillon, stir and bring to a boil. Once the soup has come to a boil, stir in tomato paste, put the lid on and place flame on low, let it go for 45 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with foil (for easy clean up). On one tray add the carrots and potatoes and on the other tray add the onions and mushrooms.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkles with the minced rosemary, thyme, garlic, and a small amount of salt and pepper.  Toss on baking sheets and roast for 20 to 25 minutes until vegetables are tender and starting to brown/crisp. (every 10 minutes give the vegetables a turn).  When the soup has 20 minutes left add the roasted vegetables to the soup.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cookbook Review - Simple Thai Food

This week I will be sharing three cookbook reviews with you. The first cookbook is Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu.

Ms. Punyaratabandhu is the award winning author of She Simmers, Thai Home Cooking Blog. She has written for several publications and makes her home traveling between Chicago and Bangkok.

Simple Thai Food is a beautifully written Cookbook and for me the photographs sell the recipes.

After spending a few days going through the cookbook page by page I decided to make the Chicken-Cashew Stir-Fry (kai phat met mamuang himma-phan).  It was a very easy recipe to make and I was able to find all the ingredients locally to make this dish. (It is not always easy to find ingredients in my town)

Other dishes I have tagged to make are Sweet Potato Fritters with Peanut-Sweet Chili Sauce, Northeastern Minced Chicken Salad,  Curry Noodles with Chicken, Spicy Vegetable Soup with Shrimp and Lemon Basil, Grilled Steaks with Roasted Tomato Dipping Sauce (Crying Tiger) and I can't forget the sweets Toasted-Coconut Meringue Cookies and Crunchy Chewy Water Chestnut Dumplings in Iced Coconut Syrup.

If you love Thai food as much as I do you will enjoy this cookbook and use it often.

I received a copy of Simple Thai Food from Blogging for Books.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Last night and this morning I have had a lot on my mind about my Blog.  The David Bowie song "Changes" comes to mind.  That's what I need to do.....Make some changes.

This morning while I was reading some blogs I came across one where a blogger posted eleven photos of the cookies she was blogging about, eleven photos that basically all looked the same. No Joke! I had a WTF am I doing moment, I have lost my identity and what I wanted my blog to be.

So starting today I am living my blog for me, I've never been a self promoter, had a ego over my blog, so why does it feel like I have changed?  I don't have an answer for that.  I can tell you I have not been happy for a long time with my blog and felt my quality of work has basically sucked.

If you choose to follow me this is what you will find in my blog related to cooking.

1.  A recipe now and then

2.  Cookbook reviews

3.  If I find some cooking tool, gadget, appliance that I'm in love with I will share it

You will also find blog posts about my other passions.

1.  Jewelry making

2.  Art

3.  Journaling

4.  Writing (work in progress)

5.  My life on the mountain

6.  Photography

I invite you to join me on my journey, maybe you share some of the same passions I have listed above, I would love to hear from you.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Biscuit Bear Claw

My husband and I love bear claws and they have not been the easiest danish to find here in Southern Utah. Since I have been have issues with baking in high altitude I decided to try and find a simpler way to make a bear claw without having to adjust for the high altitude.

Here is what I came up with using Pillsbury Grand Buttermilk Biscuits.  This is a cross between a bear claw and a coffee cake.  I am always wanting more of the almond filling in a bear claw and with my version I piled it on, I then topped it with a simple brown sugar glaze.

Biscuit Bear Claw

1 8 oz can almond paste
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla
1 tablespoon amaretto
1 8 count can of Pillsbury Grand Buttermilk Biscuits


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup toasted almond slices

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Spray the inside and sides of a 8" springform pan with cooking spray and set aside.  Using an stand mixer or electric mixer start mixing the almond paste. Add almond meal, sugar and salt; mix until incorporated.  Add butter, egg whites, extract and amaretto; mix on medium high until fluffy.

Take 4 of the biscuits and stretch out (or roll out) until you can fit all 4 in the bottom of the springform pan, pinching seams together. Spread almond mixture on top of biscuits.  Take the other 4 biscuits and do the same thing placing them on top of the almond mixture. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

10 minutes before you take the bear claw out of the oven start working on the glaze.  In a small saucepan on low heat melt the butter, brown sugar and salt until the grainy sugar is melted and smooth, just a few minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk the vanilla into the sugar mixture.  While the bear claw is still hot drizzle the glaze over the top making sure all of the top is covered.  Sprinkle with toasted almond slices.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before removing springform.

Note: Make sure you pinch all the dough together on the top layer of biscuits.  I didn't make sure on one of them and it did lift off.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Perfect Fall Cookie

I seem to always make the same cookies, the reason? I can count on one hand the sweets my husband loves and I know he will eat, peanut butter cookies, toffee cookies, pecan pie and apple fritters.  He is not a fan of sweets, I know....crazy!

I can add one more item to that list Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles.  I have never had a Snickerdoodle cookie in my life, when I was visiting Cookies and Cups blog I came across Shelly's recipe for Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles and I knew I had to make these cookies, I am one of those people who can not say no to pumpkin spice anything.

The Snickerdoodles are a simple cookie to make and I guarantee you are going to have all the ingredients in your pantry. By the time you take these cookies out of the oven your coffee will be ready, if you are a dipper like me you are going to be in heaven, there is something about all those spices and coffee, that makes them a perfect match.

The Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles filled the house with the wonderful scent of Fall.  I can see myself curled up in my favorite chair, with a big sweater, a book, a cup of coffee and a plate of these delightful cookies and feeling content.

To get the recipe for Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles just click on this link to Cookies and Cups.  While you are visiting Shelly's blog check out her other recipes for Cheesy Spicy Ranch Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Chipotle Pulled Pork with Apple Slaw and Strawberry Bread with Strawberry Cream Cheese Glaze just to name a few.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Oh For The Love of Cookbooks

Do you read cookbooks like a novel? Do you fall asleep in your bed and wake up with a cookbook or two next to you? Do you just like to look at the photographs in a cookbook? Well, I have a place for you, did you know there is a group of cookbook fanatics on Facebook?  You heard right,  The Cookbook Junkies  over 11,000 members strong and growing.  Jenny of Mad Rantings of Andrew's Mom started this group to share her passion for cooking, baking and most of all cookbooks. Your partner might not understand your obsession for cookbooks but the Junkies do and it's a safe haven for cookbook lovers.

The Cookbook Junkies

If you have one cookbook or three thousands cookbooks this group is for you. I'm not just talking about new cookbooks I am talking about cookbooks in general. Cookbook Junkies is a place to talk about and ask questions about cookbooks with people who have the same passion for cooking and baking as you do.

Not sure if you should buy the latest Italian or Bakery cookbook ask the Cookbook Junkies what they think, our members will be happy to give you advice. Did you find that cookbook that you have been searching for, for years, that cookbook your grandmother used faithfully but it disappeared, here is a place to share your find and the Cookbook Junkies will share that excitement with you.

The Cookbook Junkies also has some cookbook authors among it's members,  Rick Rodgers, Raghaven Iyer, Amy Thielen, Zoe Francois, Abby Dodge, Michele Scicolone, Jennifer Perillo and Tracy Zabar just to name a few.

There are some exciting things in the works at The Cookbook Junkies - here is a tease - Cookbook Con - have I peaked your interest?  Head over to The Cookbook Junkies so you don't miss any of the details and join the fun. Oh, and if you need another reason to head over....cookbook giveaways.

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's not too early to start thinking about Holiday leftovers

Last week while I was grocery shopping I walked by the frozen turkey's. They were on sale, I got a 14 pound turkey for $9.00.  I usually only make roasted turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I figured this is a good time to work on a recipe for the leftover turkey.

With leftover turkey I usually make sandwiches and turkey tacos. I wanted to try something new so I came up with this Turkey and Cranberry Bread Stuffing.

Turkey and Cranberry Bread Stuffing

1 stick plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon packed fresh sage, minced
3 stalks celery, cut thin
1/2 large onion, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
16 medium cremini mushrooms, cleaned, remove stems and cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 cups of a rustic bread, cubed into small bite size pieces (I used La Brea Rosemary Olive Oil bread)
2/3 cup half n' half
1 cup chicken stock
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 to 4 cups roasted turkey, diced

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat melt 2 tablespoons butter, saute celery, onions and cranberries for 5 minutes, remove to a bowl. In another skillet over medium low heat melt 1 stick of butter with minced sage for 30 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Remove butter from heat and allow to cool down. In the same skillet you sautéed the vegetables add 2 tablespoons of butter and mushrooms, sauté for 7 minutes or until tender, turn off heat add garlic and stir for 45 seconds, add mushrooms to vegetables.

Add the 7 cups of bread cubes to a large bowl, add vegetables and stir. In the bowl that the vegetables were in add half n' half, chicken stock, eggs, salt and pepper and whisk good.  Add turkey to bread and pour liquids over turkey and bread mix together well.  Allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes; add butter; stir.  Add to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish; bake for 40 minutes.
Blogging tips