It was Sunday night–the day before my usual shopping day–and I found myself with some defrosted stew beef and not much else. So I grabbed a few ingredients and whipped up a Sunday Supper of Beef Stroganoff in my Dutch Oven. It was simple and satisfying.
About 2 pounds of cubed stew beef
Olive oil, about 1 tablespoon
Some fresh white mushrooms (canned if you don’t have fresh)
Red wine, about 2 cups
Beef broth, about 32 oz.
1/2 cup sour cream
Pat your stew beef dry with a paper towel. Make sure you dry all sides of the beef. Salt and pepper the beef.
Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a Dutch Oven. Add your beef–in small batches so as to not crowd the pan–and sear the cubed beef on all sides. You are just searing the beef right now; you will cook it fully later. Searing locks in the flavor of the meat.
Remove the beef and add the sliced mushrooms. Stir to cook for a minute or two.
Add the beef back in to the Dutch Oven. Add the red wine and beef broth.
Cover and allow to cook over medium heat for about two hours. You want your stew to reduce by half.
Remove about half a cup of juices from the pot and mix thoroughly with a tablespoon or two of flour. When thoroughly mixed, pour into your pot and cook for about ten minutes. This will thicken your sauce.
Remove another half cup of juices from the pot and mix with sour cream. When thoroughly mixed, pour the sour cream mixture back into your pot and stir to combine.
Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired.
Plate up your stroganoff with some buttered noodles. Be sure to add some of the delicious gravy to the plate.
My son, MO, loves pickles and would do just about anything for them, too! Family members know this and often arrive at the door with jars of Mount Olive brand–his favorite–as a most welcomed gift.
Although MO loves to eat pickles straight out of the jar, he also loves fried pickles. I don’t make them very often, because–you know–fried food. But I must admit, these beer-battered pickles are pretty hard to say “no” to! Even my health conscience niece was sneaking one or two.
The puffy batter really knocks these fried pickles out of the ballpark.
And, of course, I used my baby Dutch Oven to fry the pickles up, because it is able to maintain the proper oil temperature for frying. Plus, because it is deeper than a skillet, there is much less splatter and mess.
Seriously…they are worth a try!
Here’s what you need:
32 ounce jar of sliced dill pickles, drained
1 can of beer (12 oz.), any kind
1 large egg
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon season salt
Enough vegetable oil for frying
In a small Dutch Oven, heat the oil on high heat until at 375 degrees. To get to frying temperature, you can put the lid on, but keep an eye on it. Frying can be dangerous, so please exercise caution.
Drain the pickles fully and pat them dry with paper towels.
Mix together flour, egg, beer, baking powder and seasoning salt.
Drop the pickle slices in the batter and make sure each side is coated with the batter.
When the oil has reached frying temperature, drop the battered slices individually in the hot oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. As the slices cook, flip them over. Each slice will puff, so give room for that. Fry until golden brown.
MO had a snow day today, so I decided to make these Cinnabon-Style Cinnamon Buns.
I was working from a really wonky recipe, so I made a few mistakes. But don’t worry! I have corrected the recipe so you can make them perfectly!
Before you read the ingredients list, do note that these are seriously NOT diet food! All told, you are using an entire cup of butter in the recipe, loads of sugar, cream cheese, whole milk and all that good stuff that you aren’t suppose to eat every day. Make these once in a great while–like on a snow day–for a real, honest to goodness treat!
For the dough:
1 packet (or 2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
4 cups of flour (I like King Arthur the best!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
For the filling:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened
For the cream cheese icing:
5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (half of a regular sized brick)
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/8 teaspoon of salt
Dissolve the yeast in the room temperature milk. Allow it to proof about 5 minutes; proofing occurs when you see some little bubbles in the milk.
In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup of softened butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar and mix with your hand mixer until incorporated. Add the two eggs and mix. Then add the salt plus the yeast milk. Once your wet ingredients are well mixed, begin adding in the flour one cup at a time, mixing after every cup until all four cups are incorporated.
Remove the dough from the bowl and kneed lightly to make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover it with a moist cloth. Allow it to rise to double the size, which will take about an hour.
Make the filling by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon and softened butter together. The filling will be grainy, which is fine.
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove it to your work area and roll it out to about 12 by 16 inches. The dough should be somewhat stiff, not doughy like bread and about 1/2 inch thick.
Spread the filling on top of the dough, leaving a one inch end of just dough and about 1/2 inch edge on the other sides.
Begin rolling the dough from the short end and rolling somewhat tightly until you reach the dough only end. Expect some of the filling to spill out on either side…this is fine.
Cut the rolled dough in half and line both halves up side by side as a guide. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch slices. I ended up with 8 Cinnabon-sized slices.
Place the slices–cut side up–into a well greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Cover with a towel and allow to rise, which should take about 30 minutes.
Put your risen buns in a 350 degree preheated oven and cook for about 30 minutes. Check them after 20 minutes to make sure they do not over bake. You want them to be golden brown and you want to be able to smell the baking cinnamon.
While the buns are in the oven (haha!), assemble the icing by first mixing the butter with the cream cheese and vanilla. Then add the confectioner’s sugar slowly, mixing and then beating until light and fluffy. Do make sure you use a hand mixer for this…I did not and my icing didn’t spread that well.
As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, spoon a heaping portion of icing on each of the buns and use a butter knife or cake spatula to spread it out across each of the buns. This is an easier way to ensure all the buns get the same amount of icing.
Enjoy with lots of hot coffee! Yum!
Here are pictures of each of the steps to help you:
I’ve been a fan of Julia Child for a VERY long time. I developed a passion for cooking after watching her public tv show, The French Chef, as a teenager. This was back in the days when watching cooking shows was something only really bored people did on a Saturday morning (read: me). Yea, I wasn’t a super popular teen, but I managed to make it pay off.
Julia’s show, The French Chef, was the first of its kind. It came before the Food Network. It was before celebrity chefs like Rachel Ray and even Martha Stewart. And it was definitely before the pompous chefs criticizing or even screaming at home cooks as they tried to make complex dishes.
Julia Child was never critical. She was absolutely never pompous either. Julia Child wanted us all to have “Courage!” and try to cook, even if we failed.
Through the magic of the internet, I was able to re-watch some of her first episodes of The French Chef and even some of her television appearances. She made me laugh out loud. She encouraged me. And she showed me how to fail…and how to recover from a failure. And that is what made her different than ALL the rest.
Today’s “celebrity” chefs have much to learn from Julia Child. Not just technique, but also about humility and humor, encouraging and truly teaching people how to do things for themselves.
And, well, that’s all I have to say about that…now on to the second recipe Julia ever presented on The French Chef: French Onion Soup Gratinee!
4 large or 6 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced thin
1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cups white wine
32 ounces (1 quart) fresh or canned chicken broth, homemade is best
32 ounces (1 quart) fresh or canned beef broth, homemade is best
2 cloves minced garlic
Fresh thyme with stems removed, about 2-3 tablespoons
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
French bread, sliced thickly
Olive oil for brushing on the bread
Shredded Gruyere cheese
Melt butter in Dutch Oven on stove top; allow the foam to subside before adding sliced onions to it. Add the onions and stir to incorporate the butter. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until the onions are soft and have reduced in size by about half.
Move the Dutch Oven to a 400 degree preheated oven. Keep the cover on, but rest it so that it is slightly ajar. Roast the onions for a total of one hour, checking and stirring them once or twice. The onions will develop a nice brown color, which is fine.
Remove the Dutch Oven from the stove to the stove top and add the wine. Proceed to stir and scrape so that you are deglazing the pot. Cook for about five minutes or until the wine reduces by about half.
When the wine is reduced, add the chicken and beef stock, the garlic, the fresh thyme and the splashes of Worcestershire. Simmer and cook on low heat for about 45 minutes.
While the soup is finishing up, brush the French bread slices with good olive oil and toast either in your toaster oven or regular oven, five minutes per side. The croutons should be really well toasted, but not burned.
When the soup is finished, ladle the soup into soup crocks or bowls (not rimmed soup bowls, but stouter crocks that can withstand heat). Float one or two toasted croutons on top. Gently sprinkle the floating croutons with a generous portion of shredded Gruyere OR Swiss (Julia used Swiss, but I prefer Gruyere).
Using a baking sheet, transfer the very hot bowls to under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Watch for over-browning or burning.
It’s no secret that peonies are one of my favorite flowers.
I have an entire section of my yard dedicated to my peony garden, which I’ve been cultivating for almost 20 years now. All of my peonies came from one vintage peony shrub, which is the reason why I love peonies so much…they multiply beautifully! And, IMHO, there is no such thing as TOO many peonies!
Every spring I watch them grow and bud. I even take little side bets on when they are finally going to bloom. And when they bloom? Watch out! It seems they all wait to bloom at once and then BOOM! It’s Heaven on Earth in my garden for two weeks!
Waiting for my real peonies to bloom in May can be pretty tiresome! Sometimes I just can’t wait to revel in their exquisite beauty. I’m impatient, I know.
To help me get through until flowering time, I’ve done the next best thing, IMHO: I’ve replicated them using my trusty Cricut Explore!
I’ve actually done two different versions of paper peonies. I am going to show you one today and the other tomorrow.
Today’s peony–which is featured at the top of this post–comes from a company called Dreaming Tree. What’s nice about this peony is is that is absolutely HUGE!
Since the file is for personal use only and does cost a few dollars, I can’t share it with you. But I will do the next best thing and point you in the direction of it, so here you go: 3D SVG/Dreaming Tree Peony Gift Box
And here is what the completed box looks like!
The thing I really like about the Dreaming Tree Peony Box is how BIG the peony flower is! It’s deliciously giant and really steals the show. But if you buy the file, you will see it comes with a gorgeous and functional gift box, too. The completed project makes a wonderful project for a shut in or someone in the hospital, because it can be used AND admired.
Note: Because we are talking about peonies today, I am just focus on the flower on top of the box. But if you want to complete the entire project, be sure to watch Leo’s helpful assembly video!
For the actual peony flower, you will be cutting out five flower flower layers in two different colors, three leaves and the stamen. Before you cut, be sure you attach the dashed score lines to the petals and leaves, because you need them for guides.
Once cut, you have to bend each petal at the score lines and then–using a pencil–“train” the petals so they curl upwards. For me the pencil works well, but use what you have. Curl the petals well, because they are difficult to curl once layered.
It’s important to note that Leo from Dreaming Tree also inks his flower petals, which is a very nice touch. I myself don’t “do” ink, because I make a dramatic mess of it, but if you are better with the ink than I am, I say “go for it”! But inking or not, I like that this file allows you to cut the flower layers in two different colors so you don’t have to ink if you don’t want to.
Once curled to your desire, layer each petal piece in order of size, attaching them with glue.
I like to glue each layer off center, so it creates an illusion of fullness to the flowers, as shown here in the picture:
After layering and gluing each petal piece, roll the stamen tightly–you can use a quilling tool for this–and glue the outside end so it stays tight. When the stamen is secure, put glue on the bottom of it and place it inside the blossom. Depending on the glue you choose, you may need to hold it for a bit while it catches hold.
There are four leaf pieces. The three fronds should be bent and then glued together to form a Y shape. When secured, glue it to the bottom of your blossom. Then follow up with the smaller piece. If you are using the peony without the box, the small three petal leaf makes a nice finishing touch, but I don’t find it necessary if you are going to place the finished flower on the box.
And here is the finished peony blossom! Isn’t it beautiful?
Another view of the peony blossom–with some of the gift box showing.
If you didn’t want to make the box, the holes in the flower layers and the hole in the bottom leaf are big enough to hold a stem.
If you try this pattern, can you let Leo and the team over at Dreaming Tree know you found out about it from me, please? I think he would be pleased to know.
Thanks for stopping by today and look for the second post, when I show you how to make a stemmed peony from a Cricut file.