Friday, September 25, 2015

Star Anise Braised Beef

Yum! This was so good! I plan on making this again! I served it with noodles and  a little warmed beef broth. The beef turned out tender and resembled beef stew with the texture but the flavors are 100% Asian!

Next time I'll make this in a slow cooker the night before.This way it can chill during the day and the excess fat can solidify on the top which will be easy to remove.

Braised Beef with Star Anise
Adapted from Chinese Cooking the Food and the Lifestyle by Annabel Jackson
Serves 2 - 4 people

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp rice wine
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
2 tbsp white rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 lb - 4 lb stewing beef
1 tbsp veg oil
1 garlic clove
1 thin slice of ginger root
2 star anise

Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and marinade the beef for at least 2 hours.
Heat oil in a large pot with a lid and stir fry the garlic, ginger, and star anise until fragrant.
Remove the beef from the marinade and sear on medium heat.
Pour marinade over the beef and cover. Let simmer for about 90 minutes, flipping every 30 minutes to keep the meat coated.
When cooked, rest the beef for 5-10 minutes. serve hot or cold.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sauerbraten (German Pot Roast)

The husband travels to Germany on occasion and was craving some German Pot Roast also known as Sauerbraten! I looked at many different recipes and decide that Alton Brown wouldn't send me in the wrong direction.

I confess that I did make changes to the original recipe. I omitted the Juniper Berries as those were not available at Wegmans. I did not sear the meat prior to marinating. I also used the slow cooker on low for about 12 hours instead of cooking in the oven.

Many of the reviews said that there were too many gingersnaps and to use 1/2 the amount of sugar. I followed those tips however I think it needed the full amount of both (18 cookies instead of 10 and 1/3 cup of sugar instead of 1/4). The broth/liquid wasn't thick enough and it was very acidic/tangy. I did throw in 2 potatoes that were wilting on my counter tops as well.

I would also vent the slow cooker lid to reduce the liquid and help make it less soupy.

The slow cooker the meat became more pot-roast like instead of slice-able. Tender and yummy, just not what (I believe) it should have resembled.

This was served over fresh and homemade spaetzle!

Adapted from Alton Brown
Serves 2 1/2 very hungry adults

2 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, additional for seasoning meat
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
6 whole cloves (1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cloves)
12 juniper berries (optional)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) bottom round (I used Chuck Roast)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
18 dark old-fashioned gingersnaps (about 5 ounces), crushed
1/2 cup seedless raisins, optional

In a large saucepan over high heat combine the water, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves, and mustard seeds. Cover and bring this to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Pat the bottom round dry and rub with vegetable oil and salt on all sides.

When the marinade has cooled to a point where you can stick your finger in it and not be burned, place the meat in a non-reactive vessel and pour over the marinade. Place into the refrigerator for 3 days. If the meat is not completely submerged in the liquid, turn it over once a day.

After 3 days of marinating, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Add the sugar to the meat and marinade, cover and place on the middle rack of the oven and cook until tender, approximately 4 hours.

Remove the meat from the vessel and keep warm. Strain the liquid to remove the solids. Return the liquid to the pan and place over medium-high heat. Whisk in the gingersnaps and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Add the raisins if desired. Slice the meat and serve with the sauce.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


While tasty I did NOT have the correct technique. These were a pain to make and made a mess of my kitchen!

The dough was very sticky and elastic-y. It was like a very thick pancake batter. This made it difficult to push through the metal colander. It was also problematic when the colander fell into the boiling water and all the dough cooked into each little draining hole.

Next time, I'll put it in a plastic bag and cut off the corner off it. Then I'll dribble the spaetzle dough into the hot water. When it floats it is ready to be fished out of the water!

I served this with our Sauerbraten pot roast!
sticky batter!

connected chopsticks with twist ties
to make a frame. This sort of worked...
balanced the colander over the
 boiling water. How could this end poorly?

Spaetzle Dumpings

Adapted from All Recipes
Makes 2 servings (even though the recipe says this would serve 6)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk (almond milk worked)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1 pinch freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Mix together flour, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Beat eggs well, and add alternately with the milk to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.
  • Press dough through spaetzle maker, or a large holed sieve or metal grater.
  • Drop a few at a time into simmering liquid. Cook 5 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
  • Optional: Saute cooked spaetzle in butter or margarine. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on top, and serve

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Gingerbread Cookies

Super easy! I made the dough the night before and refrigerated the dough overnight. Leave the butter and egg on the counter for 1-2 hours so it is at room temperature. The butter will cream better if it is on the warmer side. 

When cutting out the cookies keep the other portion of dough in the fridge. Instead of re-rolling the scraps right away, use the chilled dough and put the scraps into the fridge. Alternate until the dough is all used up. 

We made cats, mice, and men! The icing recipe is the one I used with the sugar cookies. This takes food coloring very easily and hardens quickly. I used the recipe without the almond extract and did not add any coloring. Once the icing is dry the cookies are able to be stacked. 

We are looking forward to making these around the holidays!

Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Wegmans Recipes
Makes 3-4 dozen (depends on cookie cutter size)

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 cup molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 cups all-purpose flour
Icing from Sugar Cookie recipe

In a stand mixer add butter, brown sugar, and salt to mixer bowl. Cream on medium speed until combined and lightened, scraping bowl and paddle as needed.

Add egg; mix to combine. Add molasses; mix to combine. Turn off mixer.

Sift together baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves, and flour into separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to molasses mixture. Mix on low just until combined.

Separate dough in half and form each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using rolling pin, roll out one disk of dough on lightly floured surface to a circle about 1/4-inch thick.

Cut out cookies. Transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spacing about 1/2-inch apart.

Bake one sheet at a time on center rack of oven 12-14 min, or until cookies are firm but not dry. Cool for 2 min and remove from baking sheet.

Chef Tip from Wegmans:

To control the thickness of any rolled-out cookie dough, use rubber rolling pin rings or roll it between two thin strips of wood or Plexiglas (1/4-inch thick). They will help ensure even thickness of the final product.

Incorporate some of the "scrap" dough into the next piece of dough to be rolled out. This way, you won't be left with only scrap dough when finished.

Turn the sheet pan around halfway through the baking process to ensure even baking of the final product.

Set the timer for about half the time recommended, especially with new recipes. This lets you fine-tune the baking time without fear of over-baking the cookies.

For a crispier cookie, bake additional 2-4 minutes. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Turkey Meatloaf

I'm not crazy about meatloaf but my family loved this! I actually made it ahead of time and froze it wrapped up in tinfoil. I let it defrost in the fridge over night and then baked it for almost 2 hours.

When making the loaf shape lean towards flattening so that it will cook evenly. No pictures this round! We ate it too quickly :)

If you are freezing the meatloaf I'd suggest the ketchup topping after the loaf has defrosted.


Turkey Meatloaf
Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 8-10

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried) or oregano
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast (Optional: use a combination of turkey sausage and turkey breast)
1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.

Monday, September 7, 2015

BBQ Ribs

Ribs were on sale at the market so I figured - Why not?! For $15 bucks we had a great meal for two and we know it would have been a lot more if we had them at a restaurant!

The only tricky part was removing the membrane. If this is your first time making these I recommend watching some YouTube videos. I did marinate the ribs overnight in the fridge.

These were amazing! The meat fell so cleanly off the bones and the rub was a perfect mix of sweet and spicy.

BBQ Ribs
Adapted from Chowhound
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 full racks ribs (about 5 to 6 pounds)
Favorite BBQ Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)

  • Place all of the ingredients except the ribs and BBQ sauce in a medium bowl and stir to combine; set aside.
  • Pat the ribs dry with paper towels. Remove the thin membrane attached to the underside of the ribs by doing the following: Flip the ribs over so they’re bone-side up.
  • Starting at the end of 1 rack, slide the tip of a paring knife between the membrane and the bone, then lift and cut through the membrane. Grasping the membrane with a paper towel, pull it toward the other end of the rack and completely remove it. Repeat with the second rack.
  • Place each rack on tin foil.
  • Evenly coat both sides of the ribs with the spice rub. Pull the foil up and over each set of ribs to create 2 completely enclosed packets.
  • Place the packets side by side on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet tightly with the remaining 2 pieces of foil. (At this point, you can roast the ribs immediately, but for the best flavor and texture, refrigerate them for up to 24 hours.)
  • Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the middle. (If you rubbed the ribs in advance, remove them from the refrigerator and set aside at room temperature while the oven is heating, at least 20 minutes.)
  • Place the ribs in the oven and roast until fork-tender, about 2 hours. Remove ribs from tin foil and place under the broiler until the sauce caramelizes about 5 minutes.