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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ruby Jewel Cookies

Back when I was a kid my mother always made Christmas Wreath Cookies. A couple of years ago I found this even simpler recipe from one of my Williams-Sonoma cookbooks and loved the fact that you could do this in a food processor and there was no sifting involved. With the exception of the coating of the nuts this recipe is very close.
I am all about easy especially when it comes to baking as that is not necessarily my forte. One thing I did find in making them this time around was that my "large" egg yolks must not have been large enough. What I found when I pinched some of the dough it wasn't really sticking together so I improvised and put a tiny bit of cold water in at a time until the dough pulsed off the side of the processor bowl.
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) unsalted butter – cold cut into pieces
  • Jam – any flavor
  1.  In a food processor – combine the flour, granulated sugar – pulse together. 
  2. Add in the cold butter next and pulse until crumbly.
  3. Add in the egg yolks and vanilla and pulse or process until the yolks fully incorporate and mixture pulls away from the sides.
  4. Turn dough out on plastic wrap. Press together and chill for about 15 – 20 minutes.
  5. Remove dough from frig. Form dough into ¾ inch balls and flatten and put a thumbprint in center of cookie.
  6. Fill each one with jam and bake.

Preheat oven 350 degrees – bake until golden 15-20 minutes until edges are golden. Yield = 44

These inexpensive cookies are great Holiday give-a-ways. They cost me $2.95 to put together. Place them in colorful holiday tins from the Christmas Tree Shop or Dollar Stores and you have a nice home made gift to give to family and friends and neighbors.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rustic Dutch Oven Braised Chicken

I spotted a recipe on Williams-Sonama's Facebook page and decided I would use their recipe as a basic idea and make it my own. Truly I am not a fan of beer so I am leaving that out. If you choose to add the beer the original recipe called for 2 bottles of Porter Beer to be added in when you add in the root vegetables in the cooking process. Porter Beer is a dark style beer from England. I suppose you could use most any dark beer you like that is similar to Porter; just ask someone at the liquor store.

In place of the beer I am using Gravy Master to give the sauce a deep brown color and also I think it adds depth of flavor in sauces and I use it quite often.

Also have to say I own many Williams-Sonoma cookbooks and any recipe I've made or adapted from them has turned out fabulous. I do recommend picking up the fresh thyme. You can get a small package of fresh thyme for $1.29. I am using it in this dish and another dish I created, Steak House Mushrooms Marsala. Also this dish never called for mushrooms but I added them in because I bought two packages on sale to make the steak house mushrooms and had a package left over.

One of the ingredients which I was not even sure if my store carried is celery root. In order to find out a little bit more about it and how to prepare it I found this great video on You Tube. So if you never have worked with it before either, this under two minute video will get you acquainted with this lovely and albeit ugly looking root vegetable.

I myself have found a new friend. I can't say I detected a celery like flavor as others have said. It's very mild in flavor and to me I tasted an almost nutty flavor to it. Gentle and pleasing it was to my pallet and I would definitely cook with this again.

This morning at the store I picked up a family pack of bone in, skin on chicken thighs. It had 10 thighs in the package which I am able to split up for at least 2 meals and is why the cost of $9.49 is an inexpensive protein choice.

This recipe should feed four people comfortably. I myself can only eat one thigh so when you make this determine whether you will cook four thighs or bump it up to five pieces as some one in your family may be able to eat two. I ended up doing five thighs and this recipe in total cost $12.19 and it is a complete meal. Feeding five people for $2.43 each.
  • 5 chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion - medium dice
  • 2-3 carrots - cut in 1 inch chunks
  • 2-3 red potatoes - cut in 1 inch chunks
  • 1 lb. or less celery root - cut in 1 inch chunks
  • 1 - 10 oz. package button mushrooms (optional) - cut only the real large ones in half, leave the other smaller ones whole. (Remove stems and wipe with a paper towel to remove the dirt.)
  • 2 large cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. shortening (plus a little more if needed)
  • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. Gravy Master® or Kitchen Bouquet
  • 1 good sized sprig fresh thyme 
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. corn starch and 3 tbsp. water
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  1.  Start out by preparing your chicken. Wash it under cold water and dry it with paper towels. Salt and pepper both sides to taste and set aside.
  2. Prepare all of your vegetables: the onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes and celery root and mushrooms.
  3. Measure out your chicken broth and have at the ready the rest of the ingredients.
  4. In a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium high heat allow the pan to get hot. Add in the shortening and let it melt and get shimmering. Then add in the chicken thighs skin side down. Brown them well for about 3-4 minutes until they easily move to turn over. Use tongs for this and try not to rough up the skin. Add a little more shortening as necessary to the pan. Brown the second side for 1 minute and place the thighs on a waiting plate.
  5. When all the chicken is done, take the pan off the heat and turn the heat off. Remove all but a shimmer of oil from the pan. I used a small ladle.
  6. Next, add in the onions and garlic and stir. The pan will still be sizzling. Put it back on medium low heat and cook for about 30 seconds.
  7. De-glaze the pan with the chicken broth, scrapping up all of the good bits from the bottom. Add in the Gravy Master®, tomato paste, Dijon mustard and brown sugar. Stir to combine and add in the sprig of thyme.
  8. Add in the root vegetables: celery root, potatoes and carrots. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Finally add the chicken thighs to the pan. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 30-35 minutes.
  10. Take the chicken out of the pan with tongs and place on a waiting platter.
  11. Using a slotted spoon remove the vegetables and place all around the chicken on the platter. Cover with aluminum foil.
  12. Turn the heat up and let the sauce come to a boil. Make your slurry mixture of cornstarch and water and slowly pour it in, whisking as you go until you get the thickness you desire for the sauce.
  13. Take some of the sauce and ladle over the chicken and put the rest in a serving bowl for people to ladle on sauce as wanted.

I have to say that the sauce goes beautifully with the chicken. Our only criticism of this dish was that our carrots were already sweet enough so the sauce on them made them even sweeter. I suppose had I added the beer to the recipe then perhaps that would have balanced out the sweet flavor. However as is, this was overall a stunning dish and I would attempt this one again.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Steak House Mushrooms Marsala

Years ago in our area the small chain of steak houses, The Chart House was a popular spot to go for the best ever steak and they served these beautiful button mushrooms for a side. I have recreated a version of steak house mushrooms as we got a real deal today on two beautiful T-bone steaks and I am craving a good steak house dinner tonight. Baked potatoes and a side salad will round out this wonderful meal.
This is a very easy side dish and only cost $3.95 to put together and lucky for me mushrooms were on sale as well. Marsala wine is something I like to cook with so I generally have it on hand. It lasts for a long time and cost somewhere around $9.00 a bottle.
  • 1 - 10 oz. pkg. white button mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup Marsala wine
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. Gravy Master®
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  1. It is important to have a nice wide skillet to give those mushrooms room to brown up nicely and the Gravy Master® helps with that. Heat your skillet over medium high heat. Let the pan get hot then add in the butter.
  2. When the butter foams up add in the mushrooms and toss in the butter.
  3. Next, add in the gravy master and carefully roll the mushroom around in it and then turn the heat down to medium. Add in the fresh thyme leaves, some salt and pepper to taste.
  4. De-glaze the pan with the Marsala. Stir the mushrooms and cook them for just a few minutes until softened and the Marsala reduces a bit.
There you have it, Steak House Mushrooms Marsala! My word they are delicious. Our entire steak house dinner cost less than $20.00. There was enough steak for four portions. Sure beats steak house prices!