Sunday, October 28, 2007

Comfort Food

During the fall and winter months, many of us turn to comfort foods to ward off the dreary-weather blues. You know the food I am talking about: Macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, casseroles. Even though the weather is beautiful this weekend, I was hankering for some comfort food. What could be better than warm beef, sour cream and some mushrooms? You all know this as Beef Stroganoff. defines stroganoff as a dish of meat sautéed with onion and cooked in a sauce of sour cream, seasonings, and, usually, mushrooms. Some people choose to make their stroganoff with chicken, but I feel this is blasphemy. Why would you ruin a perfectly good comfort food dish with CHICKEN? Go all out people! Use the steak. It doesn't have to be expensive cuts of meat. As a matter of fact, I use stew beef for mine. For less than $3.00 for a pound, you can have the goodness of red meat.

I used to serve my stroganoff the traditional way: Over egg noodles. When my husband and I started dating, he introduced me to the concept of eating stroganoff over rice. It sounded bizarre to me, but you know what? It's REALLY good. I won't go back to egg noodles again.

Enjoy the comfort food weather! And enjoy my Beef Stroganoff!

Beef Stroganoff
from with some slight modifications

1 pound sirloin steak, cut into bite size strips (you can also use leftover steak, or stew meat)
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (10 3/4 oz) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 1/4 cups fat-free sour cream
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
steamed rice

1. Brown the beef strips in a large skillet over medium high heat and drain excess fat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the flour, salt, paprika and pepper.

2. Add the soup and mushrooms, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Then add the sour cream, stirring well.

3. Prepare the rice. Serve beef mixture over the rice.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Ancient Mixer

Many people wonder why I don't cook or bake more often. Well, since my family consists of my husband and myself, and our schedules are completely different, I don't cook large meals during the week. I do however, love to bake no matter what day of the week it is. Lately, I haven't been making many cakes or recipes that require a mixer. Why? Well, my mixer is very old. I mean, from the 70's old. It still works, but it sits in an upper cabinet out of sight. It's a hassle to drag it down and plug it in.

I admit, I am jealous of all those people who have the shiny, new KitchenAid mixers. Heck, I would even settle for a nice hand mixer! No, I am stuck with this lovely contraption.

It does the job. Even today, when I decided I would make a lovely chocolate pound cake for company. So, I dragged down the ancient mixer, cleaned it off, plugged it in and went to town. The results were worth it.

A Lighter Chocolate Pound Cake

Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor

Vegetable oil spray for misting the pan
Flour for dusting the pan
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil's food cake mix
1 package (3.9 ounces) chocolate instant pudding mix
1 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.

2. Place all the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.

3. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 48 to 52 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a rack to cool completely, 20 minutes more.

4. Slide the cake onto a serving platter and slice. Serve with toppings, if desired.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

It's Fall!

I consider myself a fairly decent cook. Although, I have a hard time getting too creative or inventing recipes on my own. As a result, I have quite the arsenal of recipes that I have collected over the years.

I find it hard to cook for only two people, especially when my husband and I see each other on the weekends only. As a result, I try to make yummy meals to make up for a lack of cooking during the week. It's no fun to cook a whole meal for just yourself.

Today, I really felt like I should take advantage of the fall weather. It's rainy and cold in Portland (imagine that?!?) and I felt like making some "comfort" food. Since my husband is a meat eater, I decided to make roasted chicken and vegetables.

I have made a whole roasted chicken before, but of course, I had to consult Betty Crocker for the correct cooking time and temperature. I bought a four pound chicken, some onion, baby carrots and a ruby yam. After a generous rubbing of olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, some fresh sprigs of rosemary, and some chicken broth to the bottom of the pan my chicken went into the oven. After just a few minutes, the house smelled just look home cookin'!

The meal came out wonderful! The carrots and yams were nice and caramelized, and the chicken was juicy. Add a little Stove Top (Gasp!) and it made a lovely, hearty fall meal. I think my mother would be mortified that I made stuffing from a box, but I don't care. It just sounded good!

The picture is a little dark, but you get the idea! Give me a break anyways, because this is my first post!

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

1 whole (4 pound) chicken
1 ruby red yam, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 small onion (for the cavity), cut up
2 cups baby carrots
olive oil
Kosher salt
ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Wash and pat dry the chicken. Stuff the inside of the chicken with the small onion, and place in a large roasting pan.
3. Generously rub the chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary.
4. Bake for 90 minutes
5. Remove pan from oven and add vegetables. Bake for an additional 60 minutes.
6. Remove pan from oven and let the chicken set for 15 minutes before carving.