It's Secret Recipe Club time again! This month, I was assigned A Spoonful of Thyme. I enjoyed the story she tells about her grandmother and the pies, and how she talks about mealtime being an important bonding time. I can tell that family is very important to her!
I went in this month with a mission, because I was hosting a game night and needed an appetizer or snack. I considered this Zahtar Flatbread and these Bar Eggs, and was even distracted by a couple of desserts - Coconut Cream Bars and Poached Figs. But in the end it could only be the recipe that hooked me immediately - Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread. I'd seen this floating around the internet and hadn't tried it yet; this was the perfect opportunity!
I ended up going shopping at 1:00 AM (long story) and there was no working the bread counter. So when I saw that all of the crusty breads were pre-sliced, I ended up having to go with a baguette. It worked out okay, but I would have preferred a regular loaf. Anyway, cut the bread in a crisscross pattern (but not all the way through the bottom) and stuff with cheese slices. This is a bit of a process, but I found it relaxing - kind of like meditation.
It's time for April's Secret Recipe Club reveal! I was assigned Morsels of Life. The author is an engineer, and brings her desire for efficiency to her blog. She doesn't like to use any crazy complex methods, and is loose with measurements. She writes, "Generally, if you like something, use more; if you dislike something, use less, substitute something else, or just eliminate it altogether. You’ll probably be fine." I love that. Often when I'm writing recipes, and have to try and figure out how much of something I used, I just want to write - use your best judgement. She also has pretty extensive privacy and disclosure information on her blog, which I think is admirable.
CJ's blog has a lot of Asian influence, and I really like the look of this Pork Meatball Ramen, as well as this Cha Shao Chinese BBQ Pork. For sweets, I was drawn to Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes, and Spiced Date Ice Cream (made with cashew milk!). But I ended up running out of time before leaving on a last-minute trip; so when I saw this Seared Salmon with Lemon Herb Butter and Pasta, and realized that I already had all the ingredients for it - I knew that's what I needed to make!
This was incredibly easy to make - just toss hot pasta with lemon herb compound butter, spinach, and Parmesan, then top with seared salmon and more compound butter. I used frozen Alaskan salmon, frozen spinach, and store-bought garlic butter spread (I added lemon juice and zest to it) - so this was really quick and easy. Plus (with the salmon, spinach, and protein-plus pasta), it was really healthy!
This year for Valentine's Day we decided to stay in, and we both agreed that I should make Beef Wellington - a very special occasion dish of filet mignon and mushrooms wrapped in puff pastry. You can find many recipes out there for this dish, but mine has some secret weapons to keep the puff pastry from getting soggy, the beef from getting overcooked (look at how nice and pink it is, even after 20 minutes in the oven), and to add extra flavor. It is not difficult, but it is time consuming with many steps - which is why it is a special occasion dish (plus it's soooooooo rich). So read on!
First up, sear the filet. (I made 4 servings because it would use a whole package of puff pasty - I have never had good luck with refreezing it.) You want to get a nice sear on all sides, including around the edges, but don't cook the steak all the way. Remove the filets to a plate and allow to cool a bit, then cover and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. This step is what will keep the beef from overcooking in the oven.
Jessie is a wife and mother of 3, she started her blog as an encouragement to write regularly. She also hoped to support women who feel imperfect, writing that she is an awful housekeeper and lazy. I love that, because I am also those things and I don't even have the excuse of being busy with kids. She is really down to earth and I like that about her writing.
I felt like there weren't a ton of recipes for me to choose from, but the ones that I liked, I REALLY liked. My top picks were Oxtail Stew, Sweet Potato and Sausage Hash, Honey Parmesan Pork, and Boozy Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies.
I've been really digging the slow cooker lately, so I decided to go with the Honey Parmesan Pork.
Start by browning a boneless pork roast on all sides (I made a half recipe, so this roast is only 2 lbs).
You may have heard about Snowzilla, the crazy blizzard that dropped 30 inches of snow in as many hours on the east coast this weekend. People were were panicking about it all week and preparing for the end of the world. (Not that they were wrong, our street still hasn't been plowed, 3 days after the end of the storm.) I knew that we would want some comforting food options, so I made a big batch of chili and decided to revisit and revamp my old recipe for you.
Hubby likes both ground meat and tiny bits of steak, and not too many beans or extra frills. So this chili is his extra special version made just for him. Plus I made it in the slow cooker so that it would be easy - that part's for me.
I actually made this Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie back in March for Pi Day with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies. We made it with Irish Stout beer so that it would also be appropriate for St Patrick's Day. But I was in the middle of moving, and so never actually posted about it. The weather right now is making me crave warm comfort food, and I thought that this dish would be appreciated. So here I am!
One of the tricks to this recipe is to use grated tofu, which is accomplished by freezing the tofu, then thawing slightly so that it will be the right firmness. So make sure to freeze your tofu at least a day ahead of when you want to cook.
Next, saute an onion, and add toasted walnuts and the shredded tofu. Add soy sauce and lemon juice, and cook until the liquid is gone.
For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Oh! You Cook! (Which is such a cute name.) In addition to writing the blog, Dena has also authored The Everything Kosher Slow Cooker Cookbook - how cool is that?! As you can imagine, her recipes are kosher, but that doesn't mean that you have to be in order to enjoy them!
I was, of course, very interested in the Challah Bread Pudding, and a couple of other desserts including Blueberry Pudding Pie, Raspberry Custard Pie, and Almond Rice Pudding. But I really wanted to make something savory. I loved that she had several recipes that used pomegranate molasses, and ingredient that I love and am always looking for uses for. And the Picadillo Meat Loaf and Honey Mustard Chicken looked very weeknight friendly.
But in the end, I chose the Orecchiette with Veal, Capers, and White Wine. It looked so good (and easy) that I couldn't pass it up.
Start by sauteing onion and garlic, browning the veal, then adding the white wine and allowing it to cook out.
A little bit sweet, a little bit savory, a little bit herby and cheesy - this yummy dish looks gorgeous and tastes amazing, plus it is low carb! Both the husband and I loved it, which is sometimes difficult to achieve. So I call this one a winner!
Start by roasting some squash halves (keep in mind that the full recipe uses 2 whole squashes, even though I only show 1).
Meanwhile, make the filling by sauteing onion, celery, garlic, and herbs; browning crumbled sausage; and then adding apple.
Are you looking for a new side for your Thanksgiving dinner? Maybe something a little more grownup and sophisticated? This gratin with sweet potato, chard, Gruyere, fresh herbs, and lots of garlic may be perfect for you. You could certainly make it for a non-holiday dinner as well, though it does take quite a bit of time with pre-cooking, layering, and baking. Luckily, I was with my dear friend Melissa (Smells Like Brownies), who helped with the prep-work.
Start with a big sweet potato (or two smaller ones) and a whole lot of chard (seriously - a lot)
Peel the sweet potato and slice thinly, then set aside.
Remove the stems from the chard, chop, and place in a big pot with some onion that has been sauteing in butter. Look at those colors! Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg; and cook until soft.
It's Secret Recipe Club time again! This month I was assigned Sarah's Kitchen - a name that I love, obviously. Sarahs of the world unite! Sarah is from England, but now lives in Texas - which is kind of funny because I'm from Texas and once lived in Ireland (which I realize is not the same as England, but is geographically/culturally similar). Spooky.
Anyway, I was clearly craving a casserole while looking through Sarah's blog because every recipe I was drawn to was one. Like this Stovetop Beef and Penne Casserole, this Eight Layer Casserole, these two Mexican Casseroles, this Chicken and Dumplings Casserole, and this Turkey Tetrazzini. They all looked tempting, but as soon as a saw a recipe for Pastitsio, I was done. This Greek lasagna like casserole is one of my all time favorite dishes. So let's make it!
Start by sauteing onions and garlic, then browning beef. I actually chose to use half beef and half lamb.
When the beef is browned, stir in tomato paste.