Friday, December 28, 2012

Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings

It's time for another recipe swap, hosted by Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking.  It is time for another Blogger's Choice swap, and this time I received My Chicago Kitchen.  I don't remember ever looking at this blog before, and so I spent quite awhile looking over Angie's blog for a recipe. 

It has been getting colder here, and so I kept going back to her soup section.  I love stews, but usually they make so much that I really don't make them often.  Like Angie said in her post, she had never had rutebegas before this dish, and neither had my husband or I, so I thought it would be a great dish to try something new...that's what the swaps are for, right?  We found out during the course of this dish, that rutabegas are awesome. 

Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings
barely adapted from My Chicago Kitchen
2.5 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 thick-sliced bacon strips, chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 cups canned beef broth
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
3 carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1 rutabaga, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons minced chives
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch

1) Preheat to 325°F.
2) Pat beef dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Heat oil in a heavy, large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Brown the beef, stirring occasionally and scraping up browned bits, for about 8 minutes. Cook in batches if necessary. Remove to platter.
3) Add bacon to same pot. Sauté until crisp, scraping up browned bits, for about 5 minutes.
4) Add onions, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Cover and cook until onions are tender, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes.
5) Return beef to pot. Add 5 cups beef broth and crushed tomatoes with purée. Cover and bring to simmer, stirring occassionally.
6) Transfer pot to oven. Bake until beef is just tender, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Add carrots and rutabagas. Cover; bake until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until beef is very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove stew to range and simmer over low heat.
7) While the stew is simmering, prepare dumplings. Whisk milk and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Mix in chives and parsley. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
8) Whisk remaining 1/2 cup canned beef broth and cornstarch in small bowl. Raise simmering stew to medium heat. Stir cornstarch mixture into stew. Return to simmer, stirring until sauce thickens.
9) Spoon dumpling batter in medium-sized dollops onto simmering stew. Cover tightly; simmer until dumplings are puffed and a toothppick inserted into center of dumplings comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

The only changes I made were the amounts of things.  Angie said this had about six servings, but we ate three bowls for one meal and there was more than half left, so even with the amounts changed, it still makes a lot of food.

This dish is absolutely amazing on a chilly, rainy evening.  I made it after work one night and let the flavors meld even more the next day.  The night we ate it, I thickened it with the cornstarch and made the dumplings, and the flavors were even more developed. 

I loved the tomato aspect of the dish.  I have only had stews with beef broth and the tomatoes added a new dimension to it.  I also love dumplings, and that is one of the things that made me click on the dish while looking through Angie's blog.  The dumpling makes the perfect accompaniment to the dish.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Peppermint Bark Surprise Cupcakes

Carrie from Carrie's Sweet Life, is the host of this month's What's Baking Challenge, and the theme was Peppermint. 

Last year, I discovered the Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares and they were the first thing that I bought this year when I deemed it to be Christmas time.  They are so creamy with just the right amount of peppermint flavor that they are super addictive.  So, when I heard the challenge, I immediately was wondering if I could make something using those peppermint squares.  I found a recipe that hit the jackpot.

Peppermint Bark Surprise Cupcakes
from the Collegiate Baker
1 package of Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
2) Unwrap 10 of the peppermint bark squares and cut off the corners. (They aren't exactly the right size for to fit in cupcake pans, but they're pretty close.) Put the peppermint bark squares/octagons aside.
3) In a small-medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients: the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Whisk them together.
4) In another medium sized bowl, combine the sugar, egg, oil, milk, and vanilla. Mix well.
5) When you put the batter in the first paper liner, make sure you put enough in to completely cover the bottom. Fill the liner up about halfway, maybe a little less, and then put in a peppermint bark square. Cover it with cake batter until the liner is about 2/3 full. Repeat until all the other lines are full.
6) Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Test the top part of the cupcake for done-ness, but don't go too far down or you'll hit the peppermint bark.
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup powdered sugar

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a medium sized bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
2) Add milk, peppermint extract, and the powdered sugar. Mix until everything is incorporated.
3) Test the frosting to see if it's the right consistency. If it's too thin, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add another tablespoon of milk.
4) Decorate cupcakes with frosting.  You can use the corners from the squares to decorate...if you haven't eaten them by this point.

I made these twice and the first time was a failure.  I baked them for the 15 minutes The Collegiate Baker said in her instructions and when I tested them, they seemed like they were done, but as they were cooling, they totally collapsed on themselves because the centers weren't done. 

The second time, I left them in for a long time.  I left them in closer to 30 minutes because that was when my toothpick came out completely clean.  With the peppermint in the frosting, I think you lose the surprise element in these cupcakes, but I still think they are delicious.  I think it would be good to incorporate the corner leftovers into the frosting instead of putting in peppermint extract.  I made these for Christmas and couldn't keep my hands off them.  Definitely a great holiday treat. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Beer Cheddar Risotto

It's time for another recipe swap, hosted by Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking.  This time around, the theme was Side Dishes.  Always a good theme because I think everyone is always looking for new side dishes to go with the main dishes they have in mind.

I received Beer Cheddar Risotto from Ashley at Cheese Curd in Paradise.   I have to admit that I've always heard how much work risotto is, so I just haven't made it, and so while this sounded like a delicious combination, I really thought I would mess it up just because of what I'd heard.

The night that I decided to make this, my husband came home from work exclaiming that the Packers were playing on TV...he is a huge Green Bay Packers fan, so I knew this was the perfect dish for us.  We enjoyed it as Green Bay won the game (against whoever they were playing, haha).

Beer Cheddar Risotto
barely adapted from Cheese Curd in Paradise
24 oz of beef stock
1/2 small onion, diced
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 cups Arborio rice 
1/2 bottle of beer
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Black Pepper, to taste
1) Place beef stock in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low-medium heat.
2)  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to pan; swirl to coat. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes and add garlic.
3) Stir in rice, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
4) Increase heat to medium and add beer. Add 1/2 cup stock and cook 3-5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Continue adding remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next.
5) Right before you serve the risotto, stir in the cheese and season with black pepper. (Right before I plated, I stirred in another dash of beer.  I think it made the beer flavor a little stronger.)
I now think that things that take longer to cook and a little more attention usually turn out more delicious than the things that are just easy and throw together.  I couldn't get enough of this dish.  The leftovers were devoured the next day for lunch, and I think the flavors got even better the next day.  I think this is the best side dish that we've had in awhile.  I served this side dish with Grilled Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin from Two Peas and Their Pod, it was a great combination.
Please check out all the other delicious side dishes that were made below.