Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

With love and best wishes for a Happy Christmas!
May 2015 deliver perfect health, continued success and happiness always!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Slow Cooker Beef Stew over Mashed Garlic Idaho® Potatoes!

Want to instantly be happier? Then, get into your
kitchen now and cook something for someone you love!
Today I'm making my slow-cooker beef stew served over my
mashed garlic Idaho® potatoes. So easy and... So good!
It seems each time I post about how much I enjoy cooking with my collection
of Le Creuset Dutch ovens, I hear from readers who tell me that they would
love to own them too, but they don't know what they would do with them!
Of course, my answer is always the
same... You will use them to cook, Everything!
Because no matter what I'm cooking, (or baking, as is the case
whenever I create NKbread) my Le Creuset is the first thing I grab!
Even today... Even though I'll end up finishing my stew in my slow cooker!
The first step to my rich and savory beef stew is to cut
up a two pound chuck roast into one inch cubes...
Then, brown the meat on all sides with a generous dose
of fresh minced garlic and a few springs of thyme!
After the meat has browned on all sides, add six
stalks of celery and one whole white onion, chopped...
Then, add two'ish cups of beef stock and one can of tomato paste...
Stir to combine, then allow to simmer for ten
minutes while you prepare your slow cooker...
By the way... I always use Reynolds slow cooker liners for easy clean up!
After you remove the thyme sprigs, transfer beef and cooked garlic, celery
and onions to your slow cooker. Add five carrots cut into half-inch pieces...
And, add a pound of sliced mushrooms... Plus, all that rich sauce from your pot too!
I set my slow cooker on low for seven and a half hours and went shopping!
When we got home, just as the stew finished, I whipped up a
big pot of my delicious Mashed Garlic Idaho® Potatoes!
I promised to show you how I make them when I posted my
favorite Thanksgiving leftovers recipe here... So let's do it!
By the way... When I said I went shopping, I mean I visited
the Le Creuset outlet in Mebane... Where I found these goodies!
Anyway, peel three pounds of always perfect Idaho® potatoes and cut
them into 1-2" pieces. Bring 6-8 quarts of well-salted water to a boil. Then,
add 6-7 cloves of fresh garlic that you've peeled and your potatoes. Cook just
until potatoes are fork-tender. About 17-20 minutes over medium-high heat!
Using a strainer, transfer potatoes and garlic pieces to a large bowl
lined with paper towels to drain. Rinse stock pot and dry thoroughly...
Return cooked potatoes and garlic pieces
to stock pot over medium-high heat...
Salt and pepper to taste, then add 4-6 tablespoons
of unsalted butter cut into pieces. Like this...
Add 3/4 cups of whole milk...
Then mash potatoes using a hand masher. Remember, potatoes
are very sensitive to over mashing; therefore, to avoid ending
up with sticky, pasty potatoes, be careful not to over mash them!
So good!
Transfer potatoes to a serving dish and serve. Or, if you're like me...
Add a little extra butter, salt and pepper, cover your dish tightly
with aluminum foil and bake potatoes at 375º for 20-25 minutes!
Because baking perfectly mashed garlic
potatoes makes them extra light and fluffy!
Served with my beef stew or with your Thanksgiving turkey, I promise
this is a mashed potato recipe you'll come back to again and again!
As you have probably guessed by now, I have returned from my trip
home to California - And, I have tons of photos to share, so stay tuned!
In the meantime I send you my best wishes for a great week!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

{Be Thankful for} Holiday Leftovers Shepherd's Pie - Featuring Garlic Mashed Idaho® Potatoes!

Now that Halloween is behind us, it's finally time to kick
off that magical, most wonderful time of year we all
know as the Holiday baking and cooking season!
That season when comfort foods reign supreme, families gather together and
socializing always revolves around really great food! And, if you're anything
like me, it's also the time of year when we cook a whole lot more than we
need so we're left wondering what to do with all of those great leftovers!
In our house, there's a tradition of having Shepherd's Pie the day
following our Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. It's so easy to put
together and is as delicious as the first time dinner was served. In
fact, if you ask my son who loves to eat a little bit of everything on
his plate in one bite, he would tell you that it tastes even better!
I think holiday dinner leftovers make the perfect Shepherd's pie! This
recipe can be made in a casserole dish, pie plate and even in a muffin
pan for individual servings that can be frozen and popped into the
microwave for quick meals that tastes like you spent hours in the
kitchen! The first step to creating my Be Thankful for Holiday
Leftovers Shepherd's Pie is to gather up all your dinner leftovers!
Stuffing naturally creates the perfect crust - So just add a few cups to
a pie plate and press it over the bottom and into the sides. Like this...
Then, spread whole berry or jellied cranberry
sauce over the surface of stuffing crust...
Leftover turkey meat is added to the cranberry sauce layer...
Then, topped with vegetables. Any veggies will do. Honey-glazed
carrots, green beans, asparagus... Even broccoli and cauliflower or a
mix of every vegetable served at your holiday table works just fine!
Just don't forget to drizzle a little gravy over your vegetables before...
Crowning your Shepherd's Pie with my incredibly
Seriously, this is a mashed potato recipe you'll have to double, just
to ensure you have leftovers to create this Shepherd's Pie at all!
Finish with a pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and...
Slip your Shepherd's Pie into a preheated 400°F oven...
For 22-25 minutes or until potatoes turn golden brown!
This Shepherd's Pie is a marvelous way of using up all of
your holiday dinner leftovers! And, it tastes so good...
You may find yourself bringing out desserts
early, just to make sure you have leftovers!
That being said, there are no rules! Which means you have permission
to create my Holiday Shepherd's Pie for dinner any time!
I am delighted to have shared this recipe with the good people
of the Idaho® Potato Commission where you can now find it,
along with other amazing holiday recipe ideas featured at their website!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

McCormick® Fire Roasted Garlic Skillet Sauce... My Chili has never tasted better!

This morning I'm headed home to Monterey for a couple of weeks!
Which is something I believe North Carolina picked up on...
Because she put on a show of Fall colors yesterday that made it hard to leave!
Looked like she was saying, Please don't go!
Nevertheless, this girl is headed west and solo no less... Which means
that I spent the last few days preparing quick and easy homemade
dinner meals for my sweetie to enjoy while he misses me!
Of course, this also meant my first stop was Walmart for some 
McCormick® Skillet Sauces! Especially since I was asked for my chili!
Usually, I season my chili with my own blend of McCormick® spices...
However, their skillet sauce now that does that for me! And, if I'm
being honest, it does it even better! McCormick® has packaged up a
blue-ribbon winning recipe for chili in this little pouch. So I'm using it!
You can use ground beef or turkey, but my guy prefers stew meat so stew
meat it is! Begin in a skillet or Dutch oven with olive oil and a little bit of
good unsalted butter over high heat. Add one whole white onion, chopped
and minced garlic. Sear stew meat and caramelize the onion to build flavor!
After meat has browned, season with just a little sea salt and pepper...
Then, add one large can of diced tomatoes. Deglaze
pan with the juice, scraping off all the delicious bits
of flavor from the bottom with a wooden spoon...
Next, add all the beans you'd like. For my chili, I love a colorful
combination of black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans!
Stir in the bean rainbow...
Then, add your McCormick® Skillet Sauce!
Layering flavors through cooking techniques and the seasonings
we use is key to developing a depth of flavor that sets your dish
apart. To develop a richer depth of flavor for my chili, I have used
cooking techniques such as browning, caramelizing and now...
Because I have cornbread yet to bake... Slow cooking! Slow cooking
also ensures that my stew meat falls apart, which is a very good thing!
Now, while it's true McCormick® Skillet Sauces will transform
just a few simple ingredients into a flavorful, satisfying dinner meal
in less than thirty minutes, this girl needed just a little bit more time!
Because what's a great pot of chili without sweet cornbread
slathered up in unsalted butter and drizzled with honey?
Yes, still great chili... You're right! By the way, at only $1.68 per pouch,
McCormick® Skillet Sauces cost less than the price you'd pay for
just one of the seasonings necessary to create a chili to remember!
Like this one!
I hope you'll try several (if not all!) of the seven different varieties
of Skillet Sauces McCormick® has developed just for us and just
in time for the busy holiday season... Where meals like this in under
thirty minutes means more time for shopping and time with family!
Bon Appétit from 36,000 feet and thirty minutes outside San Francisco!

Disclaimer: Although I was compensated for my review of McCormick® Skillet Sauces all opinions expressed in this post are (as always) my own!