This dish was years in the making. It inspired me to dive into French cooking which lead to learning simple technique and it was the main meal I most desperately wanted to try when (finally) getting my dutch oven. I would usually just jump right into learning a new dish, so what took me so long to attempt it?

Fear.

I compared this dish to running a marathon. Theres prep, skill and determination in seeing it through to the end. SO, inevitably…. I put it off. UNTIL a friend of mine shared with me her fool-proof recipe for the easiest Boeuf Bourguinon! I couldn’t wait to share this any longer.

Start by chopping 3 1/2 oz. of thick-cut, good quality bacon and 3 oz. of onions

In a heavy pan over medium heat, heat 1 tbs. of oil and add onions and bacon. Stir until browned

Once they’re nice and  browned, remove them and set aside. Leave the extra fat in pan.

Next, pat dry all pieces of meat with a paper towel, making sure to get all the excess liquids out.

Add beef and brown on all sides (work in two batches if needed to avoid crowding)

Sprinkle browned beef with flour, stir until browned and add 1 1/4 cup stock

Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan for all those flavors. Then throw in the rest of the ingredients: Reserved bacon and onions, 1 1/4 cup red wine and bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs fresh thyme and 3 sprigs parsley, tied together). Season with salt and Pepper and simmer for 2 hours.

At this point, I put a movie in and just stayed nearby periodically checking in on my stew

30 min prior to serving, add in a cup or 2 of diced mushrooms

Then serve with your favorite side. My friend Nancy likes to eat this with Fries on the side.. which I find strange, but she’s Dutch so we won’t question it.

Boeuf Bourguignon

1 tablespoon oil
3 ounces onions or shallots, chopped
3 1/2 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced
1 1/2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1 1/2 -inch pieces, patted dry
Scant 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups any type of stock, hot
1 1/4 cups red wine
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs fresh thyme and 3 sprigs parsley, tied together)
Black pepper
3 1/2 ounces mushrooms, diced
Salt.

1. In a heavy pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and bacon and cook, stirring, until browned. Remove them and set aside; leave fat in pan.

2. Add beef and brown on all sides (work in two batches if needed to avoid crowding).

3. Sprinkle browned beef with flour, stir until browned and add stock. Stir, scraping bottom of pan, then add reserved bacon and onions, the wine and bouquet garni. Season with pepper.

4. Simmer very gently for 2 hours.

5. Add mushrooms and cook 30 minutes more. Season with salt and serve. Or, even better, reheat and serve the next day.

Tip: If you want leftovers, double the recipe. This yields about 4-6 servings, but it’ll leave you wanting more!

This post is way over-due, but I’ve just been itching to share it! A few months back (ok, so probably around summer…)  I helped plan my dear friend Marlees’ circus themed baby shower. We had less than one week to pull it all off, but I’m happy to say everyone loved it; including the guest of honor.

Besides everything coming together beautifully, my favorite part about it was making my very first Strawberry cake from scratch! A little birdie told me Marlee’s favorite cake was Strawberry, so I wanted to make it special and find a recipe that didn’t include any artificial flavors. I finally found this one and I have to admit, I added a bit more Strawberry puree into the batter for a brighter color. I wish I had a picture of the inside of the cake, but it was pretty much gone in 2 seconds flat.

To add the whimsical theme to the cake, I cut out tiny flags from construction paper and glued them onto string to tie across the diameter of the cake. It made a fun and eye-catching centerpiece for the table and the pink strawberry cake was perfect for welcoming Marlee’s baby girl #2 a.k.a Jillian.

Here’s a little more eye candy from the party. Seriously, how cute is that vintage lemonade pitcher?!

We made a fun little game by writing potential baby names on the bottom of each duckie and Marlee got to pick out her favorite.

Congratulations Zack and Marlee!

 

 

Tools of the trade

June 18, 2010

Since I’ve been in my kitchen a lot more lately, I realized im seriously lacking in tools. While I have most of the basics, and can truly appreciate the little things that make my life a lot easier like my food processor, ceramic peeler  and even my Zeroll ice cream scoop (it has heat conductive liquid inside)  🙂 Lets just say im due for an upgrade or at least additions onto my already existing collection.

Heres what I’ve had my eye on:

Top of the list! My very own Le Creuset dutch oven. It can be used on the stove top and in the oven, for soups, braises, casseroles, boiling pasta,  pretty much everything! I don’t know how I’ve survived in my kitchen without one, if even just for the Beef Bourguignon I could make with this! Sigh…

A cast-iron skillet. The perfect non-stick multitasking tool. Who doesn’t love a multi-tasking tool? Just like the cast-iron dutch oven, It can be used on the stove top or in the oven for frying, baking, browning… again, pretty much anything.  It’s so durable I could even take it camping!

A large roasting pan. I can make something small in a big pan, but I can’t make something big in a small one; right? I guess the disposable roasting pans could work for now or my bundt pan 🙂

A KitchenAid mixer. It’s probably the reason I don’t bake much. And in my tiny kitchen, I would have to clear out a lot of space for it but it would be sooo worth it, if even for all the pasta and bread I could make!  I think its safe to say most people get one of these babies when they get married, but why wait till then?

BOWLS!! I’m seriously lacking in mixing bowls. I think I have 1. That’s it. Preferably, a set of both Stainless-Steel and glass would be nice; but there are so many options. I’d be happy with just more bowls, period.

A BIG HUGE butchers block cutting board. It becomes your workstation, essentially.

Oven mitts. We have zero at the moment, and usually a dishtowel would work just fine. But there have been accidents in the past due to not having a steady grip and a simple oven mitt would easily fix that.

A wok. (or at least a much larger frying pan) I looooove asian food. Chinese and Thai especially! After using a wok in my first ever Chinese cooking class, It’s way easier to just get a wok instead of trying to fit all the ingredients that go into the frying pan I have at home. It can be done, but it’s not very easy. I should probably note that if you have an electric stove (like I do) then you need a flat bottom wok since the traditional round bottom ones wouldn’t fully contact the stove’s heat.

A Steamer. I guess this goes hand-in-hand with my love for asian foods and im limited with the tools I already own. A small stock pot can only make so many dumplings with that metal-flower-steamer and the  mini rice cooker I had in my college dorm room can probably hold 5 or 6 dumplings, max. I’ll just have to spring for something bigger.

That’s my list thus far. I’m sure there will be more tools to covet later…

After I broke off a button on my favorite Marc Jacobs skirt (yes, from overeating…embarrasing) and making some exciting summer purchases i.e. new bathing suit.  I decided it’s maybe time for (dare i say it) a diet.  Ok,  just kidding I don’t diet! Haha.  I have been trying to watch what I eat though and it probably doesn’t help that the bf keeps making PERFECT chocolate chip cookies…

When it comes to my eating habits, I’ve always gone by the rule “everything in moderation” but since bathing suit season is right around the corner and eating “everything in moderation” (emphasis on EVERYTHING) wasnt really helping in keeping my buttons from popping off,  I came across Dr. Oz’s B.E.A.C.H. Diet . I like it because it’s a simple reminder of what to keep in mind for not only a beach body, but a great go-to guide anytime you feel the need to cut back a little.  

B– Eat Breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It kick starts your metabolism and gives you the energy you need to start the day. It’s by far my favorite meal and will gladly get up early to fully enjoy everything breakfast has to offer and actually my favorite restaurants are those that serve breakfast ALL DAY just incase I don’t make it out of bed at “breakfast time”.  In trying to stick to a “beach body” regimen, I’ve been reaching for fruit, yogurt, whole grain cereal with skim milk or oatmeal during the week when I have work and then making a little something extra on the weekends like eggs with veggies and fruit.

EEliminate simple carbs and Exercise. Some people are better at one of these than the other. I can easily eliminate simple carbs from my diet, it’s easy and kind of a no-brainer. Staying away from breads, cake, muffins, white rice, cookies, or pretty much anything made with a ton of sugar or refined white flour we know is gonna plump us up. Exercise is where I fall short. It’s generally not fun for me to run and feel like im dying, so no. I don’t excercise. Heres where I really have to make the effort and I try to make it as fun as possible. I get people involved!! Plan hiking trips, jog (even if its one block at a time), play in the park with the dog, or simply go for a walk. Cardio in general is the hardest thing to do, but making it fun by going swimming and racing across the pool a few times or taking that lazy puppy out to get his heart pumping will make you feel better (even if you still don’t fit in that teeny-bikini right away). The endorphin high alone is well worth it and you’ll see results quicker than just doing Yoga once or twice a week, I know I do.

A– Add Antioxidants to your plate. Antioxidants not only protect your cells against the effects of free radicals that can be harmful to your health, they also help in reducing inflammation in the body, which indirectly helps with weight loss; especially in getting rid of that “bloated” feeling.  Some of my favorite foods high in antioxidants include: Berries, any kind of vibrant colored fruit, especially Kiwi and Pineapple; Kale, beets, spinach, dates, beans (soy and pinto), roasted peanuts, walnuts, whole grain oats and seasonings like lemon and chili peppers. Not to mention a daily dose of coffee (or tea) and the occasional glass of red wine and chocolate!! Which takes me to the next thing…

C– Indulge in dark Chocolate. Ok, this is the main reason I like this “diet” it includes chocolate! Yes, it has to be dark (look for at least 70% cocoa) but it will help offset the urge you may have in eating a whole pint of ice cream or having rum cake for dinner (don’t judge me).

HHydrate! We run around our busy days and forget to stop for a glass of water. Drink up! It’s easy to mistaken hunger for thirst, so when you start feeling hungry, drink a tall glass of water (or two). Staying hydrated and avoiding those sugary drinks will really help in shedding those extra inches we need to fit into that new bathing suit!

So the next time you feel the need to diet, try these simple steps instead of taking drastic measures like skipping meals or taking pills. There are some pretty scary diets out there, but just being aware of what you’re eating and adding a few fun “exercises” into your week may just be all you need to get back into shape, feeling your best and keeping your buttons from popping off!