Fried Onion Dip, or French Onion Dip, whichever you prefer to call it.

Aside from all the current happenings, baby planning, planning that shot-gun wedding, work, home, my best friend from Florida coming up; Football Sunday still remains.  As such, this requires snack foods, duh.  My dear friend Jenny (you know her as mom of the amazing Andrew) started a cook along for a fantastic new cookbook, The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen and I decided why not cook along? I need to try some new recipes, so I jumped on the wagon and ordered the book. You can too here (no I don’t get any credit, it’s just an awesome book)

Picture from Amazon.com

Picture from Amazon.com

I had actually never heard of this book before Jenny posted about it on her blog. (I missed a post in Cookbook Junkies about it, I really need to check notifications more) Truth be told I don’t actually watch the food network… I know, crazy right?  A graduate (with honors) of the Culinary Institute of America, and I don’t watch the Food Network.  It’s just too, I don’t know, too “made for TV”, I miss the days of Sarah Moulton ,  Gale Gand and Julia; Gordon Elliott door knock dinners was the closest to reality cooking TV (or any reality TV) I am ever willing to get.  If there is a special or something that is sciecitific or if Ruhlman‘s fine self is going to be on and I have a heads up I MIGHT set the DVR.  I really don’t watch a lot of TV. For your own reading pleasure I will share with you the shows I DO watch. The Blacklist (hottest middle-aged bad guy with a heart of gold EVER!!!!) The Voice, because I remember Blake Shelton when he played the Dutchess County Fair and had long hair, and because I think Adam Levine is God’s gift to eyesight, even if he does need to eat a days worth of cheeseburgers, and because my friend Ron is his Vocal Coach, AND because he has an amazing voice and does things in concert to a microphone that are generally reserved for showtime afterhours.  Speaking of, I also love the show “Masters of Sex”, I watch it for the Pyrex sightings I swear 😉 I am obsessed with Homeland, LOVE that show, I got my 20-year-old sister addicted, I am quite proud of that. Also, I watch Revenge, simply because I started watching in the beginning and I want to see it through now.  I love Discovery Channel, History Channel, anything dorky or education and I am THERE!! I read a lot more than I watch TV, and I do house work more than both reading and TV combined!!!

Dip and Chips!

Dip and Chips!

Anyhow, so the first recipe for us to all cook is Fried Onion Dip, and it is amazeballs. No joke. Chris LOVED the Lipton dip, like wanted it for every football sunday, and I loathed making it because I knew it was loaded with junk, I just didn’t know how to do it myself.  Now I do, nuff said. It is super easy, and can be made ahead even. I didn’t change anything too much really. I am currently not drinking so I just used some wine Sav Blanc I had picked up for a friend that was already in the fridge.  I am so looking forward to cooking through this book. We are doing 2 recipes per month, how easy is that?  If I have time to do it, you do too! We have 207 people cooking their way along so far (how great is that?!), you can join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/203576403150384/  !

Onions Browning

Onions Browning

Dip pre Chips

Dip pre Chips

For the Dip recipe, check it out here http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/amy-thielen/fried-onion-dip-recipe/index.html

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Weekend outings and garden updates

Happy Monday Morning! (or afternoon or evening by the time you read this)

In an effort to post more, I am going to start posting about the weekend happenings, garden updates, meal plans and random things I am up to. (Hopefully you enjoy hearing about my nerd life, I’m quite fond of being a self-proclaimed nerd)

This weekend I finally made the fire starters I’ve been talking about for a few weeks! It ended up being a combination of pinterest/advice from my good friend Julia’s mom. (Who I call Mama Arnouts) I have been saving dryer lint and toilet paper rolls. Yes it has been wrecking havoc on my OCD/”must always have a clean and organized home”, but I really wanted to have these for cabin time this year.   Directions are as follows:

  1. Save empty toilet paper rolls
  2. Save dryer lint
  3. Stuff lint into rolls
  4. Wrap in wax paper like a tootsie roll
  5. Save and use to start a campfire
How to make a fire starter

How to make a fire starter

 

In addition to the fire starters, I got a good amount of garden work done on Saturday morning.  Thus far I have planted Beets, Carrots, Lettuce, and Peas all from seed.  I am a little behind where I was at this time last year, but the weather this year has been the pits.  It started to rain so we cleaned up and headed to Goodwill.  I love Goodwill, they have all sorts of interesting finds there. I have found some great kitchen plates and servers there, I highly encourage checking out your local Goodwill/Thrift Stores.  We had dinner out Saturday night at one of my favorite restaurants, Four Brothers in Rhinebeck! Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats their Greek Salad!

Cucumber and pea trellises

Cucumber and pea trellises

I also made Lilac Lemon Thyme Sorbet with my friend Sarah. She and her sons made some lilac simple syrup, so naturally I thought it needed to be a sorbet. It was refreshing and delicious!

Not a great picture, but you get the idea

Not a great picture, but you get the idea

 

After that excitement it was home and time to clean the house and make dinner.  I pulled some of my homemade pesto out of the freezer, tossed it with some shell pasta and served it with delicious baked chicken breast.  It was divine, and very easy, which is perfect for Sundays!

That about sums it up!  How was your weekend?

Classic Macaroni Salad, just like Grandma used to make!

Classic Macaroni Salad, just like Grandma used to make!

Classic Macaroni Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad

Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a Goddess Girl Event in High Falls, and wow, I am speechless, it was fantastic! Goddess Girl Events are an amazing day of pampering, luxury and bliss all put on by Tamme Stitt Photography; along with Christene Spiezio, LMTGina Truhe Make Up, and Hair by Adrienne Nixon, these women wow’d me big time!! I have never felt so beautiful and so pampered! Everyone needs to experience a day like that!

This is me! All done up and heading home :-)

This is me! All done up and heading home 🙂

After my morning of amazingness, I went home, aka back to reality.  Mister Chris had requested burgers and potatoes for dinner.  Honestly I wasn’t in the mood for potatoes; Margaritas on the beach sounded MUCH better. Le sigh, reality always wins.  But I still didn’t want potatoes. I scanned the kitchen, “what can I make, what can I make, what can I make…..”, and then it hit me, I haven’t made macaroni salad in FOREVER! It’s quick, easy, and I already had all the ingredients right there in my kitchen, and let’s be honest, nothing beats not having to go back out to the store!  I made it just like my Grandma used to make it, no deviations! I wanted to add some pickles but I decided to really keep it classic and use just the juice.  Give this a try when you need a quick side or a dish for a BBQ or picnic. It is a sure fire crowd pleaser!

In the making, not exactly picturesque.

In the making, not exactly picturesque.

Recipe:

  • 1/2lb Elbow Macaroni
  • 3 Hard Boiled Eggs (see here for how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs with no green ring)
  • 3/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Cup Pickle Juice (I use bread and butter pickle juice and it is perfectly fine if some of the spices get in there)
  • 2/3 Cup Grated Carrots, packed well (or more or less to your liking)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Make your hard-boiled eggs.  If you use my method they will cool perfectly in time for the Macaroni.
  2. Boil the macaroni according to the instructions on the package, I cook mine for 9 minutes.  Make sure to salt the water well! Allow to cool in the colander.
  3. Put the macaroni in a medium-sized bowl, with plenty of room for mixing
  4. Add in your mayonnaise, and carrots
  5. Now cut your eggs DIRECTLY above the bowl, that way you can just open the cutter and the eggs fall in, and you won’t loose a single ounce of eggy goodness! I use the OXO egg slicer, it’s perfect, and I highly recommend it.
  6. Add a dash of salt and pepper, and mix it all to combine using a large rubber spatula. I find the large rubber spatulas work best. They don’t break up the noodles, but they DO  break down the yolks and really get them mixed in well with the mayonnaise, which is exactly what you want to happen.
  7. Adjust your salt and pepper accordingly and enjoy!
Just like Grandma used to make!

Just like Grandma used to make!

How to make roast beef, a simple, straightforward and easy method I guarantee to be delicious.

It started innocently enough, my love affair with beef.  As the tale goes, we were in a restaurant in Florida and as I (a teeny tiny adorable little Italian Irish Princess) grew hungry, I exclaimed “WHERE’S THE BEEF????”  Volia, history was made. Some of my earliest food memories are of my father making steaks; and while I love my steak memories, nothing quite warms my heart like the way Roast Beef does.  Its hearty goodness, bursting at the seams with flavor,  dripping with just the right amount of fatty goodness. Crisp on the outside and on the inside warm and soft with silky pink juices flowing freely with each slide of the knife.  Oh no, we aren’t discussing restaurant roast beef, making a juicy and flavorful roast beef at home is completely within your reach. My method is a 2 day process, but easy as peanut butter and jelly and well worth it the effort!! That being said, yes I realize some people buy their peanut butter and jelly premade, but that is a discussion for another day. Oy vey!

Perfectly cooked Roast Beef

Perfectly cooked Roast Beef

I prefer to use a rump roast, but you may many different cuts. A few I have found to be good are  top round (rump), bottom round (rump), eye round,  top sirloin (top butt roast  or center cut roast), Tri tip; or just ask your butcher what cuts they have available and would be good for roasting. Chances are you can find a very inexpensive cut that will be enough to feed your whole family.

Juicy and Rare

Juicy and Rare

 

Roast beef sliced, and with all the fixings!

Roast beef sliced, and with all the fixings!

Roast Beef Recipe

Day 1: Make your dry rub 

  • 2 tablespoons each garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt 
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Generous handful of brown mustard
  1. Combine all the dried spices together in a bowl and mix well to ensure they are evenly distributed.
  2. Coat the rmeat liberally with the mustard
  3. Taking the spices in your hand, sprinkle them, pour them, whatever works for you, to coat the roast COMPLETELY.  I am talking encased completely!  Use up all the dried spices and make sure every inch is covered.
  4. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap!
  5. Set in the fridge overnight, fat side down.
Whole and resting, then sliced and waiting

Whole and resting, then sliced and waiting

Day 2: Roast the beast

  1. About an hour before you plan to roast it, Take the roast out of the fridge, unwrap and place in the pan you intend to roast it in, fat side up.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°f, calculate your total cooking time, 20 minutes per pound for medium rare,  for a rare center, 15 minutes per pound.
  3. When the hour is up, put the roast on a center rack in the oven, and cook at 450°f  for  15 minutes
  4. Reduce heat to 350°f and continue to cook for the remaining length of time. (As an example, for a 4lb roast, I cook it 15 minutes at 450°f, and then 65 minutes at 350°f)
  5. Take out of the oven, place on a cutting board, slicing platter or large plate (where ever you intend to cut it)  and allow to rest for 20 minutes.  Just take it out, set it there, and walk away, don’t touch it!  I don’t use a meat thermometer, I use this method.  The roast pictured here in this post,  I cooked using the 15minute per pound guide, specifically because I wanted a very rare center, to be used another day for steak sandwiches.
  6. I cannot stress to you enough, the importance of letting meat rest after cooking. This is one of the first things we learned at the CIA, and I have remembered it always. It allows the meat to finish cooking, this is called “carryover cooking”, things like steak and roasts will rise in temperature another 5 degrees during this process!  It also allows the juices to redistribute evenly, allowing for a piece of meat that is juicy throughout, and also keeps more of the juices inside the meat once you cut it, and you want the juice!  Before I bore you anymore with the science of it all, just look at the pictures here at serious eats, if these pictures don’t convince you to put down the knife and wait, nothing will! 😉
  7. When the 20 minutes are up, slice that beast up and enjoy however you like your roast beef.  With gravy, potatoes, on a sandwich, rolled around asparagus, any way you want!
Roast Beef Deliciousness

Roast Beef Deliciousness

New Life For Your Leftovers!

New Life For Your Leftovers!

I find it near impossible to cook for 2, which is the number of people I feed each night; therefore I always have leftovers. Unfortunately I don’t really like leftovers and that presents a problem.  I had to get creative and trick myself (and C) into thinking they weren’t leftovers! I have done several “status updates” on the facebook page about things to do with leftovers, but the problem with that is, status updates often are hard to find again when you are looking for one from months ago.  So, I created a page here on the blog to house all the great ways to reinvent your leftovers!  It will always be in the same spot, a little tab at the top of the page that simply says “Leftovers Reinvented.” when you need inspiration, head there.  When you have an idea you would like to share, head there.  If you have something I haven’t listed an idea for, leave a comment on the page, or write a post on the facebook page and I will be happy to help you out! But whatever you do, don’t toss those leftovers!

To check out the page click on the picture below!!

Welcome to the world of reinvented leftovers!

Welcome to the world of reinvented leftovers!

https://burlapandbutterknives.wordpress.com/leftovers/

Baked Buffalo Chicken Dip Bites, Just In Time For Superbowl!

Baked Buffalo Chicken Dip Bites, Just In Time For Superbowl!

In our house, “Buffalo Chicken Dip” is a football favorite, but for only two people one batch makes much more than we could should ever eat in one sitting. I would make a batch and there would be so much left over, I hated seeing it go to waste.  Finally, I started making one regular sized recipe and then, before baking it, breaking it down into smaller portions that could be stored in the freezer to have another day.

031 - Copy

With Superbowl Sunday just around the corner, the timing for these is kismet.  Everyone knows, aside from the commercials, the best thing about Superbowl Sunday is the snacks! (hence the entire pinterest board I devoted to the subject.)  This past weekend I was nose deep in a new book I am absolutely loving,   “The Faux Pastry Chef”, by Mimi Fix; I highly recommend it!  I wanted to make something that would be a perfect football sunday snack, but with minimal effort.  There was Buffalo Chicken Dip in the freezer, and Wonton Wrappers in the fridge, hmmmm what could I make?  In the interest of full disclosure, I actually always have Wonton Wrappers on hand, you never know when you will need to wrap, deep fry, or bake little pockets or rolls of tasty deliciousness.

Empty Wonton

There were a lot of “Buffalo Chicken Cups” on pinterest, but the ratio of filling to wonton surface was lacking; there was too much empty wonton.  Plus, once the wontons are baked they can be very hard, so to have jagged corners sticking up in can be a pain.  Seriously, have you ever accidentally stuck one directly into the roof of your mouth?  It hurts!   I thought I would give something a try.  Use the Muffin tins as a support system, but fold the wrapper down onto the dip, thus creating a little pocket!  Low and behold, it worked!  Of course,  this is provided you already have the buffalo chicken dip on hand, but you could very easily  make a batch, use what you like and freeze the rest to use another time!

How it looks folded down.

How it looks folded down.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Bites:

Yield 24 pieces/bites

You will need:

  • Half  a recipe of “Buffalo Chicken Dip, recipe can be found here
  • One package small wontons
  • 2 Muffin tins
  • Olive oil or cooking spray
  • Ranch, Blue Cheese or Sour Cream for dipping

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Spray the  muffin pans with olive oil or cooking spray
  • Push a wonton wrapper down into each muffin tin
  • Place a generous tablespoon of buffalo chicken dip into the wonton in each tin
  • Fold the edges of the wontons down onto the dip and push down just a bit to make sure they stick. If they pop up just push them down again.
  • Bake for 20minutes or till golden brown
  • Let sit in the pans for a few minutes just to cool off, then pop out onto a plate and enjoy!
All they need is some dip!

All they need is some dip!

Amazing Swedish Meatballs,and it only took me a month to write it

First up, let me just say what a special day this is.  I mean really, today is really freaking special, it’s practically worthy of a holiday or a mark on the calendar…. November 9th, a day of epic proportions, tasty balls for all!!!!   A few weeks ago I made Swedish Meatballs;  I hadn’t had them in years, and I had never made them myself before, but they were thrown into the  “what to have for dinner” ideas every now and again.  I didn’t want to just make them, like anything I do, I wanted them to be the most amazing Swedish Meatballs ever.  So I set out to do just that, and they were great!   A few days later I was telling a friend I made them and the recipe was requested,  I said sure, but honestly this was a problem.  I never write recipes down….ever.

Tasty and delicious!

Everything I cook I make by taste, I don’t actually measure unless I am baking, canning or pickling.  If I want to write-up a recipe for the blog  I decide that ahead of time, measure out everything, and write down every step. It is a bit of a tedious process.  Lots of stop and go, season and taste, trial and an umm not error.  Just kidding, I totally make mistakes, we all remember the “Scampi incident” don’t we? Anyhow, back to the balls.  So I decided to remake the dish, and this time, write down each step, AND measure for the sole purpose of being able to share the recipe. Don’t you feel so loved now?  I posted that I was again, making Swedish Meatballs.  This in turn caused my friend Amanda to have a craving.  In all fairness, she is pregnant, and has various cravings, but she is a few hundred miles away so I couldn’t exactly send her some, otherwise I totally would have shared.  I love Amanda, and we share an equal love for hard Italian meats, when you find a friend that likes hard meaty delicious Italian treats as much as you, that’s a friend for life!!

This is how I keep my salt and pepper, using a pinch at a time

So Amanda posted that she was making them using Alton Brown’s recipe, but she also said she wanted my recipe.  I said sure no problem, since my other friend had already asked for it, and because of that I had already remade it, I just needed to write it up.  As we saw in my last post that can take months, Kerry visited in March, and I didn’t write about Baby Jesus until a few weeks ago.  THEN Matt chimed in, that he wanted the recipe too, thus continuing to light a fire under my arse to actually get this done. THAT was like 3 weeks ago now….

What roux looks like when it first comes together

You can see it pulling away from the pan as I whisk

Hot bubbly and ready for broth

Truth be told I have been a terrible blogger.  I don’t mean to be, I just rarely write. Life happens, things happens.  I’ve been canning like a maniac, gardening like a hoe, and working my regular job. The house flooded a few times, plus all that domestic stuff I do at home. From June till October I got a solid 4 hours of sleep a night. Lucky for me, Matt is worse than I when it comes to blogging, he hasn’t written since last year, and that makes me feel better. (he said I could say that) Then there is Jenny, that girl is my heart and soul, and honestly one of my greatest friends.  She didn’t start out in the Swedish Meatball conversation, which is surprising because whenever a conversation involved balls she is usually right there with me, so I kinda dragged her into it. All conversations of that nature must include her.  She has a blog too, and she’s freaking awesome. She inspires me to be a better, nicer, more compassionate and kinder person. I don’t read her blog enough, partly because I don’t read any blogs lately.  I promise to get better over the Winter, anyhow, back to the balls.

SO delicious

These really are the most delicious Swedish Meatballs I’ve ever had, I’m not just saying that cause I made the recipe, I swear on a stack of Bacon.   I add mushrooms because I like it better with Mushrooms in it. But if you don’t like mushrooms you can omit them for a more “classic” version. Please don’t let the details scare you,  it’s much easier to make than it sounds. I have never been to an Ikea store, but I know people who go there just for the Swedish Meatballs. I’m not kidding. I have a friend and anytime he knows someone is going there, he tags along JUST for the balls!  Besides, if the Swedish Chef can make them, you can to! 😉

Swedish Meatballs

  • For the Meatballs 
  • 1/2 a Vidalia onion, chopped small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • A pinch each of Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lbs ground beef
  • 1 and 1/2 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F

In a saute pan over medium heat combined the onion, garlic, olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper. With a few flicks of the wrist shake the pan to combine. Or just get a wooden spoon and lightly jostle it.  Stir every few minutes, cook till translucent and cooked through.  Then take off the heat and set aide, we’ll come back to them.

When the onions look like this, they are ready

Ready to be rolled

Put the ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper into a medium-sized bowl; then pour the garlic/ onion mixture over it all. Using your hands (yes, you are going to get dirty)  squish and mix it all together.   Then roll into balls  about 1.5 inches across, place balls in an oven safe pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Then start on the sauce.

Chopped mushrooms

For the Creamy Delicious Amazing Sauce 

  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Pint Heavy Cream
  • 6 Cups Beef Broth
  • 8oz Baby Bella Mushrooms, stalk removed and sliced thin
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt and pepper as needed

To start the sauce, combine the butter and flour in a large sauce pan over medium heat. This is called Roux and it is essential as a thickening agent for the sauce.  (I actually love to eat just plain roux, I think it’s delicious.) Whisk often.  See the pictures above for an illustration of what it will look like.

After the roux cooks about 5 minutes, whisk in the beef broth, whisk well till smoothly combined with the roux and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Add the mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper,  whisk to combine. Whisking often, bring to a boil again, then turn the heat down to medium.  Allow to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, whisking, occasionally.  I added two more pinches of pepper at this point, but you should salt and pepper to your own liking.  After the 10 minutes of simmering, add the heavy cream, and whisk till combined completely.  Bring to a simmer whisking often.  When the meatballs are done, add them to the sauce. You can add any pan drippings as well if you like, that is totally up to you, I do.  Once the meatballs are in, don’t whisk, switch to a spoon, and stir gently, adjust any seasonings as needed.  If you would like the sauce a little thinner add some milk or a small amount of water and stir gently to combine.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, then turn off and let rest in the pan uncovered for at least 10 minutes.

I serve this over egg noodles, you can have it by itself, or however you like it. If you are having it with noodles, I would start the “noodle water” shortly after you start the sauce, that should have it to a boil just before you add the meatballs. Egg noodles do not take long to cook.

Egg Noodles

I use these, no yolks

Again, don’t be intimidated but all the details, I am probably WAY more detailed than I need to be. Chalk that up to my anal retentive ways. Enjoy and if you have any questions, let me know!