Friday, November 29, 2013

Beef stew with root vegetables and horseradish

Fall always means stew season to me. Its one of those miracle dishes that once you know the fundamentals you can tweak it a million different ways to keep it interesting. The last time I tried to blog about stew, I failed miserably and charred the beef beyond all recognition. After hacking off the black bits and continuing anyways, Brian was kind, and said it imbued a subtle smokiness to the dish. (Do we see why I love this man? Not yet an "oh bleep no, we're ordering pizza" night. ♥)

This time was immensely more successful. For one, I have much better equipment now, thanks to the generosity of our friends and family at our wedding (and preceding shower). This particular recipe was blessed by the Le Creuset dutch oven from Aunt Joann. It really is so much easier to nail with a solid cast iron dish balancing out the heat. XD

Additionally, I used a very elegantly compiled "how-to" from Fine Cooking magazine. I could wax poetical about them all day though, so I won't get started (except to say that I love the subscription Brian got me for Christmas last year, and pour through every glossy page like its a religious experience.)

But we were talking about stew.

This beef stew combines all the right classic elements, with just a little edge of surprise. I am loving having the leftovers for lunch. It is definitely NOT a weeknight meal. This is a make on the weekend, start after lunch, fill the house with good smells, drool in anticipation sort of meal.

Beef Stew with root vegetables and horseradish; fantastic fall or cold winter weather recipe.

Beef stew with root vegetables and horseradish
from fine cooking

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pizza Monkey Bread

This post has been a long time coming... I originally used this recipe for a housewarming party... back in February! Back then I was picturing using it again for March Madness parties, but now I'm looking at football season... Bonus, it does travel well if you can a) keep it warm, b) reheat it in an oven, or c) stick it in the microwave when you get to the party. :)
Original thanks for help go to Rachel, though Brian has helped with batches since the original! Rachel still deserves the nod, since we all know a new recipe is hardest the first time.

This recipe is super kid friendly. Also housewarming party friendly, game night friendly, and football friendly. Great for the kid in all of us. I found it easiest to make with a helper or two, so this gets the kids involved in making dinner, or gives you a chance to catch up with that best friend that is always eager to help set up (thanks Rachel!)

Yummy appetizer from joyfulfoodie, great for game nights, very kid friendly.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Harvest Squash, Veggie, and Pumpkin Lasagna

I had this idea about a week ago. It was vaguely inspired about a month ago by a dish at a restaurant, but I knew I wanted to do something different. Last weekend as we brainstormed our meals for the week I hatched a real plan for the dish.

It. Was. Epic.

Now I normally don't oversell my dishes (*cough*snickerdoodles*cough*) but this one... it blew my mind. After I put it in the oven I fretted over ingredients that might have made it better. It was superb the way it was. Perfect Sunday dinner, with spectacular leftovers for Monday lunch. This is an instant hit for the "if I open a restaurant, I'll serve..." list.

Wonderful winter squash lasagna with pumpkin, zucchini, and corn. From

Harvest Squash, Veggie, and Pumpkin Lasagna
a Joyful Foodie original recipe

Monday, September 2, 2013

Slow scrambled eggs

This is the time of year where most blog posts are helping you get back to the rush rush rush of the school year. The new brilliant lunchbox posts, for young and not so young alike start to blend together until you can't keep the ideas straight. Don't get me wrong, I'm as ready for a break from "leftover whatever" and "another sandwich" as the next gal. But the start of the school year always makes this teacher appreciate weekend breakfasts all the more. A chance to slow down and savor my food, to really taste the flavors. This breakfast is perfect for those mornings.

I always though scrambled eggs were a quick meal, a go-to for those last minute I need protein mornings. But when you don't rush them, when you cook low and slow, they get this most marvelous creamy flavor and just melt in your mouth. YUM.

From Joyfulfoodie, perfect for that lazy weekend morning. Serve with lots of toast, cheddar biscuits, or fresh popovers. Try them with dill and ricotta for the ultimate creamy breakfast.

Slow Scrambled Eggs with Dill, Ricotta, and Smoked Salmon
adapted from the How to Cook Everything cookbook

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Busy summer!

So, its been a few weeks. So much for hitting the blog hard this summer, eh?

Really, this is just a quick check in. I'll be along with some food in the next week or two.

What have I been up to?


We went to St. Lucia for a week at the beginning of August. Talk about AMAZING. We realized while there that this is the first "grown-up" vacation I've ever taken. I only ever went home for school breaks, and we've only done 2-3 day weekend jaunts before. I guess the Boston trip last summer counts for something, but that was more visiting friends and family than getting away just to unwind and sightsee. This was sleeping in, eating out, catamaran touring, ocean swimming, rum drink sipping relaxation. I've got some food posts to share out of this one, trust me! My favorite food memories? Eating at a hotel where the chef had made the reservation for us, perfectly cooked rack of lamb, fried plantains (I made those!) and creole breakfast with salt fish and floats. Also the Chairman's reserve spiced rum. Makes the most delicious rum and coke... you can taste and distinguish actual spice flavors, which is so cool. :) And the Piton beer reminds me of meals with my Farfar, who's beers of choice were Carlsberg and Heineken... it had that kind of flavor to me.


The books on the left are ones I've already finished in August (three were on the kindle), and the ones on the right are my "next up" stack. :)

Reading. TONS. I read 10 books in the month of August. Instead of defaulting to "what do I want to watch" and grabbing the remote, I've been reaching for my book. Its been AWESOME. If you check out my 29 by 29 list (see tab above) you can follow my list. Just finished Jurassic Park today, only took me three days (and this, after school has already started!) Earlier this week I read Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson, which was so phenomenal I read it in just TWO DAYS. I got the book from the library Tuesday and finished it Wednesday. I thought about it every time I had a break at school Wednesday too. XD

New classroom!

Started a new job! I am now at a middle school (again) teaching 6th grade science and social studies. So far I LOVE IT. My kids are great, my team is great, my principal is great. I'm really happy to not have the super long commute, it makes such a huge difference to the day. I actually have time and energy left to be helpful and interesting at home. This week I helped make dinner last Monday, cleaned up from dinner a couple times this week, did general chores including a load of laundry on Wednesday, etc. It doesn't sound like much, but its a move in the right direction from it being mostly Brian handling everything to me being human enough at the end of a work day to take some of that off his shoulders. Even if it is just cleaning up a meal instead of grouching that the kitchen is messy, its big steps here. I am so happy to be at a place where I can serve a group of children and my own family in such a balanced and fulfilling way. Now I'm just looking at keeping that balance once the paper grading starts!

New haircut!!

(Terrible pic, but I'll get some better ones this weekend, whatwith labor day festivities.)
I swore I would do it someday, and I finally did. I went with some slightly conservative side swept bangs, since I was a little nervous to make the leap, but they are super cute. Finally I love pony tails on me! Now I just need to get the gym thing happening again so I can rock that look in public. Usually, pony tails are reserved for cleaning, super hot sticky weather, and ugh I can't deal with you (which happens less right after a haircut!). The inspiration pictures ranged from Victoria Beckham (extreme end) to Sandra Bullock (conservative end). My stylist nailed what I was talking about. :)

What was your favorite way to stay busy this summer?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Five

Boy, we sure have hit summer running around here!

  • Drove up to NY last week: BIL (brother in-law)'s graduation, a beach trip, wedding shop talk, 32nd anniversary dinner, and much catch up time. Just generally a great time visiting with the folks/future in-laws.
  • Just got back (Tuesday) from said week up on Long Island.
  • Yesterday marked t-minus one month until the wedding. (!!!)

I'm back to menu planning. WOOT! I missed knowing the plan for the week. We're only two weeks into vacation and I already feel a million times more human. Follow me on twitter to get weekly menu updates! Recipes to follow, here, as quick as I'm able.

The Friday Five

I'm trying to appreciate the little things, and hoping to make this a regular thing. Here'shoping it sticks!

1) Lobster. I got two stellar doses in NY: a stuffed lobster and a lobster roll. I hadn't had a truly awesome lobster roll in a couple years. Well, not one out at a restaurant. Florie made pretty stellar ones when we visited them last summer in Rockport. We ate at Lunch (officially named The Lobster Roll) near the Hamptons. This one was epic, with huge pieces of claw meat, the way a good lobster roll should be. The stuffed lobster at Sea Basin had crab meat stuffing and bay scallops. It was way too much food, and I loved it.

2) Kittens. Its amazing how much you can miss their snugglyness in one short week!

3) Goodbye visits with awesome friends. So sad Lisa is moving, so glad I got one last visit while she's here! Plus, she awesomely helped me make all the fans for our wedding.

4) Gym membership. I finally re-joined a gym, and had my first workout yesterday. It felt so good to do something awesome for me!

5) Michaels. *sigh* Shame I always spend too much. It's my favorite place to stock up on thank you notes!

Now, to try the pool. Got our new pool membership card a couple of weeks ago, but its been a) raining, or b) out of town, or c) chilling with friends, nonstop since then. Hopefully we can beat the rain this afternoon! If we manage, you'll see some pool pics on next week's Friday Five.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Balsamic Saturday

Balsamic vinegar. Is there a better condiment? I mean I guess it depends on what you're working on, but its so versatile. Come on, can you put ketchup on ice cream?

Tonight we are cleaning out the veggie drawer so we can start fresh at the farmer's market. (One of my favorite things about summer!) Brian is grilling portabello mushroom caps on the grill, and I am making a roasted balsamic carrot side. YUM. Usually I don't heat up the kitchen like that in the summer months, but our central AC is pumpin fine and sometimes you just have a hankerin for tender sweet warm carrots.

Portobello "Burgers"

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Strawberry Sauce

This sauce goes great on the pancakes I just posted. Use leftovers on vanilla ice cream. Sweet!

Strawberry Sauce
a joyful foodie original

Valentine's Day Pancakes

Perfectly fluffy heart shaped pancakes, just in time for Valentine's day! @joyfulfoodie

These are a great treat for any weekend morning, but are especially perfect for that annual heart-fest; Valentine's Day. I stumbled on this recipe on pinterest a few weeks ago and knew right away I had to try it. Who can resist a fluffy pancake recipe that claims to be the best? Certainly not I. This was the second time I made these, and they were superb both times. Make sure your baking soda is fresh, and your griddle not over hot, and these are foolproof.

Breaking news: I was just reminded that this Tuesday is Fat/Shrove Tuesday. For those of you not in the Mardi Gras/Lenten loop, that means pancake dinners, everywhere. Plan accordingly! Pancake supper time!

Ahem. Back to your regularly scheduled post. :)

The best pancakes ever - sublime topped with strawberries and powdered sugar and served with a side of bacon. YUM. @joyfulfoodie

Best Pancakes Ever
(Seriously, the hunt is over)
from Coleen

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Superbowl Sundaes ;)


This has been one of my go-to dishes this fall. Easy, quick cleanup, ready when you get home from work. Its pretty healthy, as far as game day foods go, and if your crowd doesn't finish up the food, it freezes super well.

Barbecue Sundae
from Southern Living comfort food
You can take shortcuts by getting ingredients at a meat-and-three or favorite barbcue, but the pork is so easy in the slow cooker, why would you want to?? :)

2 cups warm baked beans
2 cups coleslaw
1 pound warm shredded barbecued pork
Barbecue sauce*
Dill pickle wedges (optional)

Divide baked beans among 4 small bowls, mugs, or wide-mouth jars; top each portion with 1/2 cup slaw, 1/4 pound shredded barbecue pork, and sauce. Serve with a dill pickle wedge, if desired.

Yields 4 servings, so double and triple away for a game day crowd.

*This family swears by Sweet Baby Rays. WWP+ is about 2pts per serving on that, which is plenty in a sundae.

Slow-Cooker Carnitas (or one rockin' pork starter) (5 WWP+ for 4oz serving)
from thekitchn
1 (6-8 pound) pork butt, also called pork shoulder
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
8 whole garlic cloves, smashed
4 chipotle peppers (canned or dried)
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup orange juice

Trim excess fat from the meat and discard. Put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker. Set to cook on low for 8 hours. You can tell the meat is done when the house smells so good you can stand it any longer, and the meat falls off the bone. Shred the meat into a serving bowl.

Bonus tip, you can skim the fat off the juice and keep some to reheat the meat in. Great for storing leftovers in the freezer! I've had it keep as long as 3 months so far, but I can't resist it any longer than that, even for testing purposes. ;)
Yields about 26 servings

And my favorite slaw recipe? I'm so glad you asked.

Zesty Slaw (0 WWP+)
from the Food Network
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 head napa cabbage**, shredded
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 tbsp freshly sliced green onions
1 carrot peeled and shredded
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Whisk the rice wine vinegar, lime juice, canola oil, and sugar together in a small bowl.
Add the cabbage, cilantro, green onions, and carrot to a large serving bowl and combine. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

**Use judgement on the cabbage. If it looks like waaaaaaaaaay more than you need, half the recipe and stop chopping! It does keep for a couple of days though. :)

Not a fan of barbecue sauce? (I'm shocked you stayed this long!) Combine the pork and the slaw on a flour tortilla for a kickin' carnita instead!

What's your favorite Game Day recipe? And what's that one splurge item you can never resist?

EDIT: 2/10/13
I'm trying out something new, to give you guys some more options for saving favorite recipes. My go to method is to print full page and add to a binder, but I know a lot of people prefer recipe cards. Let me know if this method of printing works for you at all! :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bonefish Grill

I have always loved going out to eat. However, I have always wanted my food my way. My mom was impressed as a child when I once sent a plate of pasta back to the kitchen 4 times. Yes, 4. First, it wasn't specialized at all; normal sauce, and not what I wanted. The next two times it came out looking exactly the same; it had green stuff. (I believe now, looking back, that it was probably just finely chopped parsley.) Finally they got it right. Hey, I didn't say it was always easy eating out with me.

These days, the biggest challenge is finding a budget friendly place with food that still tastes better than I can cook at home. Usually that means we go Asian... I haven't ventured into Thai, Indian, or Sushi much yet. (Though I do have a killer shrimp curry dish that Brian made once to share soon.) When we go to the "big city" we have plenty of options, and many are even ok price wise. Of course places like Second Empire are a totally different story, and different blog post.

Our local options? Not so varied. Hence, the Asian. So when Bonefish Grill showed up recently, I was thrilled. I knew this one from Boston, but had never made it out. Very excited for the second chance!

I've been twice now; first time for drinks and dessert, second time for dinner. Totally different crowds, same great service. Shall we begin?

(All ratings out of 5 stars, slightly emotionally swayed by price point, and definitely based on the category. Wouldn't take bread over appetizer, for example.)

Bread 4 stars
The bread itself has a good texture. Served warm, good crust, soft insides. Sliced most of the way through so you don't mangle it trying to cut a slice. The oil really makes it though; its poured over pesto. YUM. Can totally do this at home, now that you have the idea. ;)

We got the special; Lobster Rangoon. 4 stars
Just enough crunch, rich filling. You get 6 on the plate, so plan on two plates if you've got more than two people. Good solid bits of lobster, you can tell its not a normal rangoon. Sauce is a great balance with it; you can just catch the hint of ginger, which is perfect. Only complaint was that a few over-puffed, leaving a disappointing hole when you bit in.

Salmon with Warm Mango Salsa 3 stars
The salsa really made this fish. It was good fish, and had a nice wood grilled flavor, but it was a tiny bit dry. (I do mean tiny.) Really, quite satisfying. Best part? They have the salsa recipe on their website. Untitled

Pecan Parmesan Crusted Rainbow Trout 3.5 stars
Topped with artichoke hearts; genius. They add the best flavor! This one reheated pretty well as leftovers. My only complaint was that it wasn't as pecan crusted as my expectations. It had a lovely crust, but it was a lot more breadcrumb and parmesan feeling than pecan. I have a walnut rosemary chicken recipe that was guiding my expectations though. I may try this one at home soon. :) Untitled

Herbed Jasmine Rice 1.5 stars
I would have liked a lot more flavor from this side. I will try something different next time.
Potatoes Au Gratin 2.5 stars
It was good. Served in a scoop. Probably not a be all end all potato for me, but good.
Garbanzo beans 2.5 stars
These were the seasonal vegetable. If I'd realized, I'd have gotten a steamed veggie instead of the rice. They well prepared, but very starchy compared to green veggies. They did have spinach sauteed with them, but I'm always thinking there should be more spinach.

Chocolate Creme Brulee. 5 stars
Omg. I have this problem where if creme brulee is on the menu, I have to order it. It holds this sick fascination over me. I love cracking the sugar with a spoon. I love the crunch of it on my teeth. I can't help it. Any flavor, anytime. Boy did we get lucky with the chocolate. Just the right amount of bitter to off set the sweetness from the sugar crust. A hint of Grand Marnier that you almost have to look for. Fresh cream. We got the last one in the house, and I am so glad we did not miss out. YUM. I know, blurry :(

Sparkling White Mango Sangria 4.5 stars
The mango wasn't in your face, and it wasn't sickly sweet or fake. They use fresh mango puree. It was topped with cinnamon which gave it a great smell and a nice zip. It was garnished with a slice each of lime and orange. I think mango would have been nice there, but I know there is a cost issue with that (plus they can keep sliced citrus better).
Fresh Cucumber Collins 4.5 stars
I'm still not a gin drinker (though apparently Hendrick's is more my cuppa than Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray). But Brian enjoyed this a lot, and the cucumber was nicely balanced and refreshing.

The other visit I had the Pomegranate Martini (YUM) and the classic Creme Brulee (YUM).

Service both times was stellar. When we went for dinner it was packed. There was a 40 minute wait, but they came around with a sample of their chicken marsala and took drink orders. The service was quick and friendly, our waiter attentive without being intrusive. When I went for dessert and drinks, there weren't many people there. They gladly pushed tables together for our large group, and were quiet helpful even though we didn't order entrees or apps. Really pleased with the staff both visits. :)

***Sorry the pictures are not my usual quality. It was dark, my real camera was at a friend's house, and I was really hungry. XD


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