Coq Au Vin (My version)

You all know that Coq au vin is just a fancy French way of saying “Chicken Stew”, right? ¬†IDK… many of my friends don’t know that so forgive me when I seem like I need to be “Captain Obvious” ūüėČ

I’ve mentioned before that my Mom’s family is French. ¬†NOT the sophisticated eloquent French that you might be picturing… more like the poor kind. ¬†I’m proud of that though because along with being poor comes the need to be inventive. ¬†We’re ALL inventive when it comes to food. ¬†My grandmother had 10 children and that’s a LOT of mouths to feed when you only have 1 chicken! ¬†Grandma used to go out to her yard and choose a chicken, chop it’s head off and take the feathers off. ¬†Yummy huh? ¬†Thank GOD I never had to SEE it, much less do it. ¬†I’d probably never eat meat if I had to witness something like that. ¬†Coq au vin is one of those recipes that you can make your own and it’s inexpensive. ¬†It just takes a little bit of time.

Here’s my way… which, BTW, has been SO simplified but SO tasty! ¬†This is what we had tonight. ¬†I have to be in the right mood to want to go through a little trouble and tonight, while it’s cold and rainy, I’m in the right mood!

Coq Au Vin (Michelle’s Way)

Ingredients:

2 1/2 to 3 lbs chicken pieces (breasts, thighs or drumsticks) OR a whole chicken, skinned and cut up (I used 3.5 lbs chicken breasts, boneless)

2 TBSP cooking oil

salt and pepper

2 large vidalia or sweet onions, cut into 8 pieces each

1 1/4 cups Burgundy

4 medium, thinly sliced carrots

1 lb sliced fresh mushrooms (optional)

1/4 cup chicken broth (or water)

1 TBSP dried parsley

1 TBSP fresh chopped parsley

1 tsp dried marjoram

2 tsp dried crushed thyme

1 bay leaf

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb smoked bacon, chopped and cooked crisp, bacon grease reserved

5 TBSP flour

2 TBSP butter

16 oz cooked Penne pasta for serving

Directions:

Cook bacon until crisp. ¬†It’s easier if you chop the bacon while it’s still a little frozen. ¬†Set aside.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown chicken pieces on all sides in hot oil, about 15 minutes.  Drain fat.  Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  Add onions, mushrooms, bacon, carrots, Burgundy, chicken broth, dried parsley, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer and cover.  Cook for around 50 minutes or until chicken is fork tender.

Take chicken and vegetables out of pot and set aside.  Discard bay leaf.

Heat reserved bacon grease and the 2 TBSP butter until hot.  Add flour and stir.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Once roux (bacon grease and flour) is made, add mixture to the juices from chicken.  Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.  Once thickened, cook for 1 minute more.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with fresh parsley.

Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables and serve over pasta.

*This recipe makes very generous servings for 6 people. ¬†The bacon makes this even more tasty than the other recipes I’ve tried. ¬†Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta & Broiled Shrimp

And in the midst of ALL this chaos… I’ve still had time to cook! ¬†Sometimes take out just is NOT satisfying and Lord knows we’ve been doing way too much take out lately! ¬†

Last night I made the most amazing dinner. ¬†I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve always steered away from this roasted red pepper sauce because it seems like anything you have to use a food processor with or a blender… well, it’s too complicated and creates too many dishes to wash later. ¬†Yeah, I’m lazy.. so what? ¬†lol ¬†This is WELL worth the extra step of pureeing the roasted red peppers and if you decide to make this, you’ll be SO thankful! ¬†Or maybe you’ve already tried it. ¬†Either way, it was new to me so I have to share ūüôā

Oh and as a side note, teenage munchkin had one of her bff’s over (another daughter to me) last night who is SO hard to please with food. ¬†Usually I have to end up making her a grilled cheese or throw in a frozen pizza because she won’t eat anything new. ¬†HOWEVER and Thank you JESUS, she LOVED this dish and asked me to keep it handy to make it for her again. ¬†Anything Shelby approved is a hit in OUR house ūüėČ

 

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta and Shrimp

Ingredients:

1 lb large shrimp, raw and in the shell

16 oz pasta (I used Penne)

12 oz jar of roasted red peppers with juice

1 TBSP Olive oil

5 cloves minced garlic

2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/2 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese

1 3 to 4 oz jar of Peproncinis  (Optional for garnish)

Fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:

1.  Shell and devein the shrimp.  Spray a broiling or grilling pan with Pam and place shrimp (separated well) on pan.  Cook in oven on BROIL just until shrimp turns pink.  Immediately take off of pan (to stop cooking process) an place on a plate to cool.

2.  Cook and drain pasta.

3.  While pasta is cooking, remove about 1 roasted red pepper from jar.  Chop and set aside.  Place remaining red peppers with their juice into blender and puree.

4.  Heat olive oil in large non stick skillet.  Saute garlic.  Cook and stir on medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Be sure not to get too brown or it will taste burnt and bitter.

5.  Add the pepper puree, cream, salt and pepper.  Cook on medium heat, stirring until hot bubbly and thick.  About 6 minutes.

6. ¬†Stir in cheese and parsley. ¬†Stir until cheese is melted. ¬†Add shrimp for a second until it’s warm again. ¬†

7.  Add sauce to the pasta and mix.  Top with Peproncinis if you want and extra cheese.

*Tip:  Always boil pasta in salted water so that the pasta has flavor.  When I drain the pasta, I immediately add back into the pan and toss with a little olive oil.  I then add a little Parmesan Cheese to the pasta BEFORE the sauce is added so that the cheese sticks to the pasta.  

 

 

Espresso in a coffee pot… Confessions of a caffeine addict


Sadly, today, there’s not going to be enough caffeine in the world to keep me awake! ¬†I have issues with sleeping at night the way a NORMAL person would sleep. ¬†When my head hits the pillow, a slow motion picture movie starts playing in my brain… and then it speeds up and speeds up and speeds up… with every little thing that I might need to get accomplished for the next day or the next week or the next year and then finally, the rest of my life

Caramel Frappuccino¬ģ Blended Coffee

 

I spend at least $30 a week on these! ¬†I’d spend more if we actually had a Starbucks close. Alas, it takes me about a half an hour to get there ūüė¶ ¬†

 

I’ve been trying different recipes I found online (pinterest)¬†and I’ve been SO disappointed! ¬†I couldn’t reproduce the rich, frothy deliciousness in my blender! ¬†NOW, I know that I really needed to purchase the blended ice coffee mix, like this one. ¬†Without the mix… NOTHING goes right for iced coffee!

Which brings me to my NEXT problem… I ALWAYS, always order my iced coffee with a double shot of espresso! ¬†I rarely ever GET a double shot of espresso. ¬†As in, they charge me for it but I can really taste that I’m not actually receiving a double shot (I call it my double shot of CRACK). ¬†Do you know that they charge you $1.50 extra for a double shot of crack? ¬†So to NOT get my fix just pisses me right the he## off! ¬†lol

 

Product Details

Oh, how I want one of these! ¬†I would save SO much money if I had one but I just can’t justify spending $600 PLUS shipping when my daughter¬†is working SO hard to raise enough money to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua¬†this summer? ¬†I just can’t do it ūüė¶ ¬†Besides, we actually own an expensive Bunn. ¬†Product Details

Solution? ¬†I went online and ordered 3 bags of Starbucks espresso from Amazon. ¬†I also ordered a bag of ice coffee blend. ¬†I found out that you can buy stove top espresso brewers, called Moka Express. They’re inexpensive AND they have good reviews!

 

I don’t think I’m going to do that though. ¬†I’ll wait until I can afford the real deal ūüôā ¬†Instead, I’m going to do the best I can to produce the closest thing to espreso that our little Bunn can make! ¬†I’ve done some research this morning and here’s what I came up with:

Instructions for coffee maker espresso

 

    • Choose a dark¬†roasted¬†or espresso roasted coffee bean and then grind your beans as finely as possible. While many coffee grinders have an espresso option, if there is a finer option, don’t necessarily go for the espresso grind. Rather, to make your espresso with a drip coffee maker, you will need to select the finest grind possible.

       

    • Double your coffee filter so that the water moves slowly through the grounds. If you have a built-in metal cone filter in your coffee machine, add a paper filter for good measure.

       

       

    • Measure your coffee grounds, using approximately ¬†1 1/2 TBSP of finely ground coffee for every 1/4 cup of espresso. However, remember that because the water will move more slowly through the grounds, you should not attempt to make more espresso than your your coffee maker’s¬†cone or filter holder can hold at one time to prevent overflow.

       

       

    • Place your coffee grounds into the filter and pack down slightly with the back of a spoon (it’s called tamping). Pour the desired amount of water into your machine, and allow it to brew your hot cup of espresso. For best results, use pure, filtered water.

So to recap:  1 1/2 TBSP for each 1/4 cup of espresso.
For your further reading enjoyment…. ¬†article very correctly states that “espresso is not just a cup of coffee, it’s a state of mind”. ¬†Espresso is also compared to Ambrosia, THE drink of the gods! ¬†lol ¬†I’ll have to agree with that but only IF it has lots of sugar and cream! ¬†

New York Style Vanilla Bean Cheesecake… is what’s for dessert!

I’ve been wanting to revisit this recipe for a while now and I think today is the day! ¬†I’m a little strange, I think, because I don’t really like cheesecake the way I should. ¬†TYPICAL cheesecake, that is. ¬†I want my cheesecake to have LOADS of flavor and to be fluffy and light. The New York Cheesecake is the ONLY way to go, in my humble opinion. ¬†This is my single most FAVORITE recipe. ¬†Tried and true. ¬†PLEASE read the notes. ¬†It’s really not a hard recipe but the desired result won’t be the same if you don’t follow the directions.

New York Style Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Ingredients

5 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups (one pint) sour cream, room temperature
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 vanilla bean pods (*split them open with a sharp knife and scrape the inside where the beans are, set aside)
1  teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (*Fresh is best)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Directions
Generously butter the inside of a 10-inch spring form pan.  Wrap a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil tightly around the outside bottom and sides, crimping and pleating the foil to make it conform to the pan.  This will help to prevent water seeping into the pan when you put it into the bain-marie (hot water bath).  Position the baking rack in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 300* Fahrenheit.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sour cream until well blended.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat the cream cheese with the butter until smooth and creamy.  Add this to the egg-sour cream mixture and beat until smooth. 
Add the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, the scraping of vanilla bean pods, lemon juice and lemon zest and beat thoroughly, about 2 minutes. 
Pour into the prepared spring form pan and place in a roasting pan (or other pan) large enough to prevent the sides from touching.  Place in the oven and carefully pour in enough very hot tap water to reach halfway up the sides of the spring form pan.
Bake for 2 hours, 15 minutes, or until the cake is very lightly colored and a knife inserted in the center emerges clean.  Remove from the water bath and carefully peel the aluminum foil from around the pan.  Let stand at room temperature until completely cool, about 4 hours.  Refrigerate, covered, until well chilled.  For best flavor and texture, this cheesecake is best chilled overnight.
**My Notes:¬† I can’t stress enough how important it is to let those first¬†4 ingredients in this recipe come to room temperature.¬† I’ve hurried the cream cheese and have had unsightly lumps of it in my batter.
**I’ve italicized the mixing instructions to¬†emphasize blending the ingredients to achieve the desired texture.
** Don’t burn yourself when taking the cheesecake out of the hot water bath. ¬†I’ve done this before and it’s not fun! ¬†Be sure to have a platter ready to remove the cheese cake from the hot water.
** Enjoy the yumminess!

Porcini Risotto

I meant to ¬†post the recipe for my porcini risotto yesterday when I told you about¬†this, alas, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing and I just ran out of time. ¬†This is a CRAZY good side dish and goes especially with a main dish of beef or could even be a meal on it’s own.

Risotto is easy but a lot of people shy away from it because it really IS time consuming due to the fact that you have to add little amounts of broth at a time until the rice absorbs it.  If you add the liquid all at once, the rice will never absorb it all.  The end result will be a creamy, cheesy, gooey goodness!

Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup Arborio rice (it has to be Arborio)

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

2 medium leeks, only the white parts, sliced (you could use 1 medium onion sliced or diced)

4 or 5 dried porcini mushrooms

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 1/2 cups hot beef broth

1/2 cup cream

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

pepper to taste

Directions

To re hydrate dried porcini mushrooms, place in a cup of hot water for a few minutes.  take hydrated mushrooms out of water and set aside.  In a skillet, heat up olive oil on medium high heat.  Add leeks and saute until soft.  Add rice to softened leeks, add garlic powder and salt.  Toast rice until lightly browned (about 2 minutes).  Add wine to rice mixture and saute until wine is mostly absorbed.  Add 1 cup of the hot beef broth, stirring frequently.  As the liquid cooks down add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time until all broth is used.  At the end, add 1/2 cup of cream and stir until rice is very creamy and most of the fluid is absorbed.  Add Parmesan cheese and pepper, stir until cheese is mixed into the rice.

President Ford’s Braised Eye of Round Steak …. is what’s for dinner!

It’s just me and the hubby at home today cause the munchkin is visiting her daddy for the weekend. ¬†I look forward to cooking on these “just for 2” kinds of weekends.

So I had beef eye of round steaks. ¬†What to do with them? ¬†They’re a tougher, less expensive cut of meat so I knew I’d have to cook the heck out of them but I’m SO tired of making “Swiss steaks” with this cut. ¬†

This is what I found and it was absolutely delicious and PACKED with flavor! ¬†Give it a try, I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed ūüėČ ¬†Btw… ¬†the note said that former US president Gerald Ford requested this dinner regularly. ¬†It was his favorite.

President Ford’s Braised Eye of Round Steak

Ingredients

2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 large onions, sliced thin 

4 eye of round steaks, about an inch thick

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup flour for coating

1 cup beef consomme, undiluted (I used 1 can of Cambell’s beef consomme)

1 cup burgundy wine

1 tsp chopped parsley, optional (can be fresh or dried for garnish)

Directions

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. ¬†Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes but don’t brown them (just long enough to soften and let the juices run). ¬†Remove onions from skillet using a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. ¬†Season the steaks with thyme, salt and garlic powder on both sides. ¬†Rub in seasoning. ¬†Dust steaks lightly with flour on both sides. ¬†Fry steaks in skillet over medium high heat until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.

Pour beef consomme and burgundy wine over steaks and return onions to skillet as well.  Cook over medium high heat until aroma of wine dissipates, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for approximately 1 hour, or until steaks are fork tender.

Serve over rice, potatoes or egg noodles.  I made my porcini risotto YUMMMMMMMMM!