Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Maple Citrus Pot Roast

I love pot roast. It's hearty and warm, like a good hug. Who doesn't love a good hug?! Anyway, I switched up the flavors a bit for something a little different. Serve over mashed potatoes or with a side of roasted root veggies for a perfect warm meal on a cold winter night!

Maple Citrus Pot Roast

What you'll need:

  • 2-3 lbs beef chuck/brisket/or round (I used chuck)
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 large orange, cut into wedges
  • 2-3 dried bay leaves
  • few springs of fresh thyme
  • 2-3 small to medium sized white, purple and orange carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Pat dry beef chuck. Season all sides with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. In a dutch oven/large heavy pot, add enough oil/fat of choice to coat the bottom (about 2-3 tbsp of a 5.5 qt pot). Sear meat over high heat, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside. 
  2. Turn heat down to medium and add the chopped onions. Saute until fragrant, scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up all those browned bits (those are the BEST for adding flavor). Add the garlic. Saute for another 2 minutes. 
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan, scrapping up even more of those browned bits. Then add the maple syrup, orange juice, chicken stock, and orange wedges (squeeze the juice). Bring to a soft boil. Then add the meat back to the pan. Add the bay leaves and fresh thyme.
  4. Cover the dutch oven with the lid and bake at 325F for 2 hours. Add the carrots about an hour later. Serve over mashed potatoes, pureed cauliflower, or even by itself. Enjoy!

    Note: This recipe can also be made in a slow cooker. Just follow steps 1-2 as is. Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan and scrape up the remaining brown bits. Add the meat to the slow cooker along with the deglazed onions and brown bits followed by the remaining liquids and herbs. Cook on low for 8 hours. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Roasted Cashews

Is pumpkin spice still a thing during the winter holidays? Or is it just a Fall thing? Anyways, I love pumpkin when it's cold. So really, that means, in California, I only enjoy pumpkin from Thanksgiving to about New Years. These are super simple to toss together but oh so addicting! They've got just the right amount of holiday spice and are perfect for snacking on.

Pumpkin Spice Roasted Cashews

What you'll need:

  • 3 cups raw cashews
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice 
  • pinch of salt
What to do:
  1. Preheat your oven to 400F. In a large bowl, whisk the eggwhite with a pinch of salt until doubled in volume and foamy. Whisk in the maple syrup, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice until combined. 
  2. Toss in the cashews and mix until they're all coated with the mixture. Spray a baking sheet with oil (I used this), but feel free to use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spread the cashews in a single layer. 
  3. Bake for 10 minutes at 400F. Turn oven down to 350F. Toss the cashews and rotate the pan. Bake for an additional 10 minutes at 350F. 
  4. Remove from oven and allow the cashews to cool. They'll get nice a crispy as they cool completely. Enjoy!

Sangria - 2 ways

Sangria and sangria blanca are super simple to make and can easily be made ahead of time, perfect for all those holiday parties you're hosting right? While you're slaving away making all the holiday fixings, make sure to throw together either, or both of these delicious and refreshing cocktails for sipping while you work. I've made sangria two ways here, for those that like red wine and those that prefer white. Both are flavorful and delicious! For the red sangria, I went Sandra Lee Semi Homemade (I loved that show on the FoodNetwork. Her "cocktail time" at the end of every show was my favorite for these reasons alone.) and bought a bottle of Trader Joe's pre-made sangria. It is delicious on its own, but I classed it up a bit by adding some tasty winter spices. For the white sangria, I kept it light and refreshing by mixing a reisling and some hard apple cider.

Apple Ginger Cider Sangria
What you'll need:
- Reisling, or other semi-sweet/dry white wine
- Hard apple cider, ginger flavor
- apple, sliced thin
- pears, slice thin
- oranges, cut into wedges

What to do:
1. In a large carafe, combine 3 parts reisling and 1 part hard apple cider, ginger flavor, and fruit slices. Refrigerate overnight and serve chilled with ice.

Vanilla Cinnamon Sangria

 What you'll need:
- Trader Joe's Pre-Made Sangria
- apples, sliced
- oranges, wedges
- berries (I used blackberries)
- cinnamon sticks
- whole star anise
- fresh vanilla bean or 2-3 tsp vanilla extract

What to do:
1. In a large carafe, combine the sangria and fruit. Add the star anise. Break the cinnamon sticks in half before adding. If using fresh vanilla beans, cut bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Add the seeds, then the remaining bean pod. If using extract, add 2-3 tsp of vanilla to preference. Refrigerate overnight and served chilled over ice.

Happy drinking!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Eggnog Panna Cotta

Making panna cotta is a great way to impress your friends and family. Not only does it have a fancy Italian name but it's also super luxurious on the palate. But it's actually relatively simple to make PLUS it's one of those desserts you can make ahead of time! Textually similar to a baked custard, like creme brulee, panna cotta is just cream and gelatin with sweetner and maybe some vanilla. The gelatin is what gives it its creaminess instead of eggs likes in a custard. But since it is the holidays, why not go all out and combine custard and panna cotta for something super fancy!? This does take a little more time to prep than a traditional panna cotta, but will be so worth it when you show up to a party with these.

Eggnog Panna Cotta

What you'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (or almond milk for dairy free)
  • 1 cup cream (or full fat canned coconut milk for dairy free)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 tsp gelatin (I used this)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp cognac (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp rum (optional)
What to do:
  1. In a bowl, add the cream, keep it cold by placing this bowl in a larger bowl full of iced water. Set aside.  Bloom the gelatin by adding about 1-2 tbsp of the cold cream (just scoop it from the bowl) to the gelatin powder in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and maple syrup together until combined. In a sauce pan, heat the milk (or almond milk) with nutmeg and cinnamon over medium heat until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the milk is steaming. Don't let it boil or it will curdle. 
  2. While continuously whisking, slowly temper the egg yolk mixture by adding the hot milk to the yolks. Make sure to go slow or you'll just end up with scrambled eggs. Once you've added all the milk to the yolks, pour the entire thing back into the sauce pan and heat over medium heat. 
  3. While stirring the custard mixture (I like to use a push/pull zigzag movement for this), add the bloomed gelatin. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. 
  4. Set a mesh strainer over the bowl with the chilled cream. Remove the custard mixture from the heat and strain the custard into the bowl of the chilled cream. Stir in the vanilla and alcohol (if using) until combined. 
  5. Ladle the panna cotta into your jars/ramekins/dessert cups. Let it set in the fridge overnight. Serve chilled with a fruit compote (I made a blackberry compote for this), or as is!


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