September 30, 2010

Meatloaf and Taters

 I went to the library and checked out Ree Drummond's cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, and picked out a bunch of recipes to try.  Above is a picture of her favorite meatloaf.  I was a bit skeptical, because we already really like our recipe, but decided to give hers a try.  She has a 2 extra steps that made it phenomenally good - bacon draped over the top, and a homemade sauce.  Also, I really liked cooking it on the broiler pan to get rid of all of the grease. (why didn't I ever think of that before?).  I also only made half of her recipe, and it still was too much for us!
I also made her twice-baked potatoes.  I froze most of them, and we gobbled up the rest - delicious!

September 20, 2010

Birthday cake!

Last week, I made this cake for some friends' daughter who is 4 today!

boeuf a la bourguignonne

A week ago, I pretended to be Julia Child and made boeuf a la bourguignonne, which is beef stew with bacon, onions, and mushrooms, simmered in red wine and herbs.  It was so good!  
First I braised the pearl onions in beef stock and herbs
Next, I cooked up the bacon pieces

browned the pot roast meat that Papa Bear had cubed for me
cut up carrots and onions, and added this to the meat, red wine, and beef stock
This all cooked together in the oven for 3 hrs and then I added in the pearl onions and some sauteed mushrooms at the end.  I wish blogs could be scratch and sniff because it was torture smelling it cooking all day!
Both of my girls ate it, which is testament to how delicious it was! You should try it!

Here is the recipe copied out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Julia Child’s Boeuf a la Bourguignonne (beef stew in red wine, with bacon, onions, and mushrooms - For 6 people

Can be prepared a day ahead, and gains in flavor when reheated. 
Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with this dish.  Buttered noodles or steamed rice may be substituted.  If you also wish a green vegetable, buttered peas would be your best choice.  Serve with the beef a fairly full-bodied, young red wine, such as Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux-St. Emilion, or Burgundy.

6 oz chunk of bacon
9 to 10 inch fireproof casserole 3 inches deep
1 Tbsp olive oil or cooking oil
Slotted spoon
3 lbs lean stewing beef cut into 2 inch cubes (chuck pot roast, sirloin tip, top round, bottom round)
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tbsp flour
3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine
2-3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillion
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ tsp thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
The blanched bacon rind
18-24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter

1.         Remove bacon rind and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, ¼ inch thick and 1 ½ inches long).  Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 ½ quarts of water.  Drain and dry. (I skipped this step)
2.         Preheat oven to 450°
3.         Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.  Set casserole aside.  Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef
4.         Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp.  Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.  Add it to the bacon.
5.         In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetable.  Pour out the sautéing fat.
6.         Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper.  Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour.  Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.  Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more.  (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.)  Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325°
7.         Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered.  Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind.  Bring to simmer on top of the stove.  Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven.  Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 ½ to 3 hours.  The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
8.         While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.  Set them aside until needed
a.       Brown-braised onions – for 18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter: 1 ½ Tbsp butter, 1 ½ Tbsp oil, a 9 to 10 inch enameled skillet, ½ cup of brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine, or water; salt and pepper to taste, a medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, ½ bay leaf, and ¼ tsp thyme tied in a cheesecloth. (I didn't have a cheesecloth and it worked just fine)
                                                              i.      When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible.  Be careful not to break their skins.  You cannot expect to brown them uniformly. 
                                                            ii.      Braise as follows: Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet.  Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated.  Remove herb bouquet.
b.      Mushrooms – a 10 inch enameled skillet, 2 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp oil, ½ lb fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
                                                              i.      Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil.  As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms.  Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes.  During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat.  In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms with begin to brown.  As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
                                                            ii.      Sautéed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed.  Season to taste just before serving.
9.         When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.  Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it.  Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat. 
10.     Skim fat off the sauce for a minute or two, skimming off addirional fat as it rises.  You should have about 2 ½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. ( I didn't have this much sauce left for some reason)  If too thin, boil it down rapidly.  If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon.  Taste carefully for seasoning.  Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetable (recipe may be completed in advance to this point.)
11.      FOR IMMEDIATE SERVING:  Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.  Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley. 
12.      FOR LATER SERVING:  When cold, cover and refrigerate, About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

September 17, 2010


last Saturday, we had a long busy day.  First, we made muffins that taste like doughnuts (recipe from the pioneer woman), and then headed to the annual company picnic.
The picnic shelter was next to a river and it was very pretty.  There were lots of activities set up so Goldilocks and Curly Bear decided to start with ping pong.
They mostly chased the ball.  There was a playground by the picnic shelter and Curly Bear went down the slide 10 million times.

We got there a bit early, so Goldilocks was one of the first to get her face painted.  This lasted until she decided to dance in the rain while we hid under the picnic shelter.
One of Papa Bear's co-workers has a big military truck that he always brings to the picnics.  He gave us a hayride - Goldilocks enjoyed it, and Curly Bear LOVED it!

September 16, 2010

This month I am trying some new recipes.  We typically eat breakfast for dinner on Friday nights, so we made some cheese grits.  They were yummy!  I got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  I don't think this recipe is on her website, I got out of her cookbook that I checked out from the library.

September 11, 2010

Artichauts au Naturel

The other day, Goldilocks noticed the artichokes at the store and we decided to get one.  I had never tried fixing an artichoke at home before, but since I had recently checked out Julia Child's The Art of Mastering French Cooking, I figured why not?
First, we read the instructions and looked at the pictures
Goldilocks helped break off the stem first, and then I tried to cut the end of the cone shaped part off with a knife.  Note to self: need sharper knives.  Next, we used scissors to trim off the pointy tips of the leaves.  This was funny - the tips flew everywhere.
Note to self: move stuff out of the way next time.  Leaf tips flew everywhere including into the toaster and my glass of water.
This artichoke was boiled whole for about 35 minutes I think.  Goldilocks helped me make a lemon butter sauce for dipping. Wearing a green shimmering cape and flower headband is optional while cooking
Apparently, Julia Child likes butter, and we do too :)
Goldilocks was excited to try out something new that she had helped make.  Ready for the first bite...
I totally missed her initial reaction because I was laughing too hard, but I think you can tell if she liked it or not.

September 10, 2010


Curly Bear is sporting some new pigtails in her hair.  It is starting to get longer and harder to manage.

September 9, 2010


Here is the latest birthday cake for a friend who turned 5 yrs old today!  My girls are currently crazy about Dora the Explorer.