Sunday, February 11, 2018

Slow Cooker Kimchi Stew with Beef



 If you know me, you know that I'm not a sports fan. Baseball, Soccer, Basketball, Football, I don't discriminate, I don't watch or follow any of it. I recently showed up at my brother's Superbowl party, and I may or may not have been greeted with a "wow, what are you doing here?" kind of a vibe. LOL (tbh, I think that was the first time I watched any football game since I was in high school. Not even kidding) But I figured since everyone was so hyped about the Eagles playing, I might as well join in the excitement.
 There is, however, one exception to my non-interest in sports, and that is The Olympics. The ceremonies, the personal stories, the lifelong dreams, the culture of the host country, I love ALL of it and I'm absolutely glued to the TV for the 2 1/2 weeks that they're on. I even record several channels that air the different events so I won't miss anything. 100% true story!
 So, now, I know I've talked about this before, but one thing my family always does every Olympics, is we have a hang at my sister Jeanie's house, and everyone brings a kind of food from a different country. Polish sausages, Mexican dips, Italian desserts, Asian appetizers, it turns out to be quite a spread! (Special USA shout out to David for bringing wings and to Gregger who brought a tray of McDonalds cheeseburgers! LOL)
 I always make something in honor of the host nation, so I decided to try my hand at Korean food, since this year's Olympics are being held in PyeongChang. And, of course, this means it should probably involve their national dish, Kimchi, which traditionally is a spicy and sour fermented cabbage dish that is served with nearly every meal. From what I've been told, Kimchi is kind of sacred and most Koreans feel like if they haven't eaten Kimchi, then they haven't eaten yet that day. To be quite honest, I had never even tasted Kimchi let alone cooked with it, so I did a lot of googling.
 I happened to find this recipe on a blog called My Korean Kitchen. The blogger mentioned that she had been wanting to try using a slow cooker for some of her Korean recipes, and I figured this one seemed to be perfect for our Olympics night. I made my list of ingredients, and off to the Asian market I went. Perfect!
 The recipe is absurdly easy to make because you literally just throw everything into a slow cooker, turn it to low, and leave it there for about 8 hours. And OMG it is SO flavorful! It has just a little spicy poke, but you can adjust that to your liking. (tbh, I don't like something that will burn my face off, but I do like a little afterburn.) Anyway, overall, I think my first attempt at Korean food was a HUGE success. I'm definitely awarding myself a gold medal for this one! If you want something warm and comforting with a little spicy hit, you should definitely consider trying this one. It's absolutely delicious!


4 cups Kimchi cut into bite sized pieces
2 lbs chuck steak
2 cups water 
1 Tbsp minced garlic  
1/4 tsp ground black pepper 
2 tbs rice wine
2 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) - can reduce this to make it less spicy 
1 tbs gochujang (Korean chili paste)

Rinse the steak in cold running water to get rid of the blood. Pat it dry with some kitchen paper. Cut them into small chunk pieces. Add all ingredients in a slow cooker. Set the slow cooker on low heat and cook it for 8 hours. Stir it a bit occasionally. (The food is ready to eat from the 5th hour. However, an additional three-hour simmering makes the Kimchi and the meat even more tender.) Serve the stew with rice once it is cooked.
 Tips:
You can use any kind of meant instead of (or in addition to) the beef, but just be sure to choose something that is not so lean (as suggested on the original recipe). I used beef, but I also added some pork belly. The meat becomes much more tender and the fat melts into the stew and makes it rich and SO flavorful!
I didn't have rice wine, so I used dry sherry. I believe you can also use sake or mirin. And instead of using the gochujang, I used sambal oelek, which is another kind of chili paste. Absolutely delish!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Nutella Swirled Cheesecake Bars


 If you love Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) as much as I do, then you simply MUST try this recipe. It's from Pillsbury, so you already know that it's gonna be amazing, and OMG wait'll you taste it! I was looking for a picky-uppy dessert something, and as soon as I saw it, I couldn't wait to try it. Actually, I'm not even kidding when I say that. I stopped what I was doing, went to the store to buy the ingredients, and made them as soon as I got home. And of course they were as decadent as I thought they'd be!
 I've literally made them twice in as many weeks. The first time I made them was just as a little thank you to my friend Anthony, who said that "they might be his favorite thing ever." Then I made them for a my friend Marie's dinner party where they got RAVE reviews from everyone! I PROMISE you'll get the same reviews when you make them too!
 The only challenge is to not run out of Nutella before you go to make them! Does anyone else find it difficult to not eat it with a spoon right out of the jar? Uh.. I mean... I'm asking for a friend...



1 package (16 oz) Pillsbury™ Ready to Bake!™ refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup Nutella™ hazelnut spread


 Heat oven to 350°F. 
Place cookies in ungreased 13x9-inch pan. Press dough evenly into pan. Bake 9 to 13 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread evenly over baked crust. In small microwavable bowl, microwave hazelnut spread uncovered on High 10 to 20 seconds to soften. Drop teaspoonfuls of spread on cream cheese mixture. With knife, carefully swirl spread into top of cream cheese mixture. Bake 25 to 30 minutes longer or until filling is set. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled.
 
 
Tips:
My only thought about the recipe is that I wish the bars were THICKER (because, as I always say, more is more!) Both the crust and the filling are very thin, which is perfect when you're just picking them up to eat them. But I wonder what it would be like to increase the recipe by half, or maybe even DOUBLE it to have a more of a swirled cheese CAKE, know what I mean? I will definitely be giving this a try. Of course, I'll let you know how it goes!
 If you'd like to make the crust from scratch, just use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it seems to me that this is one instance where store bought is just as good!


Monday, January 29, 2018

Joey's Baked Reuben Dip



 Many people ask me where I get my recipes. Well, sometimes I'll see something on a cooking show that will spark an idea. Sometimes it'll be whatever looks freshest at the supermarket. Sometimes it'll be what I'm craving (which usually means some sort of fresh produce). And sometimes it'll depend on whatever ingredients I happen to have on hand, which was exactly the case with this recipe.
 I wanted to make something that would be great to serve at a party, whether it's a holiday, or a celebration, or for whatever big game you happen to be cheering. (Frankly, I've never been one to scream at the television, but hey, you do you.) Anyway, I quickly surveyed the ingredients that were in the fridge and figured this recipe would be an easy something to throw together before your guests arrive. My brother, Chris, happens to make the BEST homemade sauerkraut, check. All of the condiments and a jar of my homemade pickles, check. Cream cheese and Swiss cheese, check. The only thing I was missing was the corned beef! Awesome. I really wasn't following any recipe, just adding Reuben ingredients and some cream cheese to make it a dip! Simple, right? It only took a few minutes to mix everything together and into the oven it went. SO EASY! And seriously just as delicious! If you like a Reuben sandwich, then OF COURSE you'll love this dip because it's basically the same thing!
 And everyone will be so impressed! But you don't have to tell them how easy it was.
 So make this for your next party or game day. Hope your team wins!
Betcha everyone will cheer for YOU too!



1 lb sauerkraut
1 lb corned beef or pastrami
1 lb Swiss cheese
1/4 cup sweet pickles
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbs mustard
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat oven to 350ºF.
Drain sauerkraut very well. Chop the corned beef and shred the Swiss cheese. Chop the sweet pickles. Add all to mixing bowl with remaining ingredients. Mix until well combined. Place in a 9x13 casserole dish. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until melted and bubbly and a little browned on top. Remove from oven and let it sit for a good 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite crackers.



Tips:
Instead of adding the ketchup/pickles/mayonnaise, just add a cup of thousand island dressing. It's the same thing!
If you want to add a little spice, add a little cayenne pepper.
To make it a little extra creamy, add a tbs or two of sour cream.
If you're only feeding a small group, cut the whole recipe in half!
I used Triscuits because I like how sturdy they are with a dip. But you could also try rye crackers to echo having a Reuben sandwich on rye bread. You could also add a tsp of caraway seeds to the dip to echo that again! Come to think of it, you could even serve it with those little party rye breads. Maybe cut them diagonally and toast them first, just for presentation and proportion. Perfect!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce


Whenever the cold weather kicks into high gear, my first thought is to put a big pot of something on the stove and let it cook all day. I’m guessing you’d get the same response from many of my family members as well.  It’s just how we were raised! If my Mom didnt have a pot of beef stew, then she’d have a pot of meatballs or chicken stew. There’s just nothing more warming and comforting if you’ve been out in the cold.
 During our recent cold snap of subzero temperatures, I immediately started my search for whatever I’d decide to cook all day. While I was browsing the interwebs, I happened to be watching The Pioneer Woman. She was making this Bolognese sauce, and I thought “well, THERE’s the recipe I’m looking for!” It was an easy throw together recipe, and I already had most of the ingredients on hand.
Easy! So it cooked and cooked and cooked all day, OMG it’s amazing. And the longer it cooks, the better it is. I had some for dinner, saved some for leftovers, and froze the rest. Perfect, huh?
 So the next time you want a cook-all-day kinda recipe, you should give this one a try. It’s my new fave! And it might become yours too!







2 carrots



One 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
4 pounds ground beef
2 cups whole milk
Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Parmesan rind, optional, plus grated Parmesan, for serving
Cooked spaghetti, for serving
Chopped fresh basil, for serving



Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots and onions, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute. Pour in the red wine and cook until it is mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Pour this mixture into a slow cooker.
Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons oil into the skillet, add the beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up any lumps, until it is nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Drain off any excess fat. Stir in the milk and cook until it is mostly absorbed by the meat, about 5 minutes. Add this to the slow cooker along with the tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, nutmeg and Parmesan rind if using. Add some salt. Give it a good stir, cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
Skim off any fat on top and check the consistency. If it is too thick, add a bit of water. If it is too thin, cook for another 30 minutes with the cover off.
Remove the rind and serve over spaghetti with lots of grated Parmesan and topped with fresh basil and parsley. Extra sauce can be frozen for later use.

Tips:
I added quite a lot more red wine, and I also used fresh herbs instead of dried. I think the fresh thyme was a game changer! Just sayin!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Crock Pot Smothered Pork Chops and Potatoes


  I'm sure I'm not alone when I say this, but whenever it's super cold outside, I immediately want to cook something delicious and warm and comforting. You know, something that will cook all day and make the whole house smell like home. Do you do that too? Especially when we get a lot of snow, you see people posting photos of everything they've cooked while being snowed in. I do it all the time!
 So, since our recent cold snap of subzero temperatures, I've lately been turning to my slow cooker for a few new all day recipes. As soon as I saw this recipe from The Country Cook, I knew I had a winner. There was just a whole lot of "how can this not be good?" about this recipe! Serve it up with some steamed greens and there's dinner! Prep it the night before to save time! So add this one to your repertoire and keep it in mind the next time there's snow in the forecast.
It just may become your new favorite!


2-3 tbsp. olive oil
4 thick cut, bone-in pork chops
salt & pepper, to taste
1 (10.5 oz.) can condensed cream of chicken with herbs soup
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 large russet potatoes, sliced into ½” thickness
1 onion, diced
2 cups shredded colby & monterey jack cheese, divided use1/2 cup sliced green onion, for topping


  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Brown both sides of the pork chops (don’t fully cook the pork chops - just a minute on both sides to get them brown.) Set aside pork chops. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream of chicken soup with the heavy cream, milk, and minced garlic. Set aside. Slice potatoes and chop onions. Spread the sliced potatoes and the onions into the bottom of a 5 quart or larger oval slow cooker. Season with salt & pepper. Spread half the soup mixture on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle one cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top. Place pork chops in a single layer on top of cheese. Spread the rest of the sauce mixture on top of the pork chops. Cover with remaining cheese. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When done, sprinkle the top with sliced green onion.

Tip:
I think the next time I make this, I may add some fresh thyme leaves to the soup mixture. Just a thought!
Not a fan of cheese? Just leave it out! I've never tried it, but it seems to me that the soup/sauce mixture would be just as delicious without it. But maybe add a tsp of mustard to the sauce, just to add a little sharp bite that you would normally get from the cheese!
When I made it, I had enough ingredients to double everything, so I did! I still did the potatoes and onions on the bottom, and the chops on top. I just piled the chops on top of each other and then poured the soup mixture over all. I also let it cook for a good long time so that the meat was falling off the bone by the time I served it up!