Monday, March 30, 2015

Beef Stew Over Mashed Potatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut smaller if necessary
salt and pepper
1 (small or medium) onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 box beef broth (32 oz)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or Steak Sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 celery stalks, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1/2-1 cup frozen green peas
1-3 tablespoon cornstarch (dissolved in water), optional
1 tablespoon dried parsley
mashed potatoes (from approximately 5 pounds of raw potatoes, see tips at bottom of post)  

If you are using prepackaged stew meat I would suggest cutting the pieces once or twice to make them more bite sized, since they usually come quite large. Salt and pepper stew the meat. Heat oil and butter in large pot over medium heat. Brown just the outside of the stew meat (do not cook) and remove from pot. Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and celery.

Bring to boil and reduce to low simmer. Add back stew meat. Cover and simmer for 1.5-2 hours. Add carrots and peas and simmer covered for the last 30 minutes. Add 1-3 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in cold water to bring stew to desired thickness, if desired, or add more beef broth to thin, if desired. Salt and pepper to taste and stir in parsley. Serve over mashed potatoes.  

How I Make My Mashed Potatoes

5 pounds potatoes
1 stick butter
sour cream (optional)
salt and pepper

Bring large pot of salted water to full rolling boil. You want the potatoes to have lots of room and water to boil in. While waiting for the water to boil, peel the potatoes. Then cut small potatoes into 4 pieces, medium potatoes into 6 pieces, and large potatoes into 8 pieces. Transfer to colander and rinse with cold water to remove any dirt.

Boil potatoes, in a rolling boil, for approximately 10-20 minutes. Start checking them at 10 minutes and every 2-5 minutes after to prevent overcooking. Potatoes are done when very easily pierced with a fork but not mushy or completely falling apart. Drain water off potatoes.

Return potatoes to dry pot and return to burner on low heat. Add butter (I usually use about 1 stick of butter for 5 pounds of potatoes) and continue stirring to melt butter and to evaporate excess water from the potatoes. You want the moisture to come from the butter and milk, not from the water. When potatoes start falling apart and getting a little dry and powdery you can turn off the heat and start adding milk and continue stirring and mashing. Continue adding small amounts of milk (and or sour cream) while stirring and mashing until desired consistency is reached. Salt and pepper to taste.

Use a hand masher for 80-90% of the mashing. Then transfer potatoes to a large plastic bowl and use a hand mixer (on medium to high) and whip them for about 30 second to fluff them up and remove any big lumps. Overmixing with the electric mixer will result in a glue like texture. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Crustless Quiche with Veggies and Bacon

Great for brunch or dinner. Serve with a side of hash browns and fruit. Recipe is very versatile and vegetables used can be varied. Quiche pictured has steamed zucchini instead of spinach. Serves 4-6 people. 

2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 cup broccoli cut into tiny florets and steamed for 3 minutes
1 cup spinach broken into bite size pieces
1 cup monterey jack cheese shredded
3 slices thick cut bacon cooked and crumbled
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Generously grease bottom and sides of 9 inch glass pie pan with butter. Add bread crumbs to pan and tilt until completely coated. Layer with broccoli, spinach, cheese, and bacon. Whisk eggs, milk and seasonings together and pour evenly over the layers. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and egg is set when toothpick is inserted. Serves 2-4 people.

Adapted from 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Pizza Tutorial (Dough and Sauce) aka How to Make an AMAZING Pizza at Home

I have been optimizing this recipe for a couple of years now and I've finally have what I believe is a foolproof way of making amazing pizza at home. It does require some advance planning and a stand mixer, but other than that it is very easy.

The Dough
This recipe requires some advanced planning but it is well worth it! It needs to be made at least one day in advance. Instead of using gluten you can use 3 cups of bread flour. Makes two small to medium pizzas. The unique thing about this recipe is that you add water to the flour instead of flour to water. Also, you use cold water and let the dough rise in the fridge. The slow rise results in a more flavorful crust and adding cold water just until no dry flour remains makes the recipe almost fool proof. Partially prebaking the crust ensures that the crust will be done in the middle and browned in the bottom without overcooking the toppings.

3 cups white flour (minus 3 Tablespoons)
3 tablespoons wheat gluten
1/2 teaspoon rapid rise yeast (or 1 teaspoon active dry)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil (or canola oil)
1 1/3 cup ice cold water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons melted butter
garlic salt
pizza sauce (see recipe below)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese (good quality)
dried Parmesan cheese 

Combine flour, gluten, yeast, and sugar in stand mixer. Mix with a whisk or wooden spoon. With dough hook attachment going (I set my kitchen aid at speed #2) add oil then slowly start adding water. Add water until the dough is just combined and no dry flour remains  (you probably won't need the entire amount listed). You must watch carefully so that you don't add to much water, making the dough gooey. Cover and let dough rest for 10 minutes. Add salt and knead with dough hook for 5 minutes (I use speed #2 on my Kitchen Aid). Shape dough into ball and transfer to lightly greased large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in fridge for 24-72 hours.

Approximately 1.5 hours before you are wanting to bake the pizza, remove dough from fridge, divide in half, shape into two round balls, cover, and let set on counter to reach room temperature (at least 1 hour). Preheat oven to 475. Roll out each half into circle (work from the center out). I like to roll out my dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. If the dough is not very elastic let it rest for 10 more minutes. Stretch dough to to desired thickness, tossing if necessary. For this recipe I roll each half into a 9-12 inch circle. 9 inches gives me a thicker crust and 12 a thin crust.

Transfer dough to pizza pan. I use this non stick air bake pan and I love it. Poke holes with fork all over crust. Don't be shy about this, you want a lot of "pokes" to prevent big air pockets from forming. Bake for 4 minutes and remove from oven. Relieve any remaining air pockets with fork or toothpick and push them down with your finger.

Brush edges of crust with melted butter (about 1 teaspoon per pizza) and sprinkle with garlic salt. Top with sauce, cheese (I like the shredded mozzarella from Sam's Club, it is very good quality), and toppings. I use 4oz of cheese per pizza. Bake at 475 at 3/4 height in oven for approximately 8 minutes or until cheese in center of pizza is just beginning to brown. Sprinkle with dried parmesan cheese and serve.

Inspired by America's Test Kitchen, Your Homebased Mom, and Pioneer Woman pizza dough recipes.

The Sauce
This is very simple and inexpensive to make. I use 1/8 tsp garlic salt if my toppings are going to be salty (like pepperoni) but I use 1/4 tsp if all my toppings are going to be vegetables.

1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/8-1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Combine ingredients. Use about 1/2 of sauce per small/medium pizza. Can also be used as dipping sauce for pizza rolls or breadsticks.

Favorite Topping Combinations
pepperoni and zuchinni
pepperoni and fresh pineapple
pepperoni, fresh pineapple, and jalapeno
kale, zucchini, and tomatoes
barbecue sauce (instead of tomato pizza sauce), bacon, chicken, and kale