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Friday, January 30, 2015

Beef Stroganoff | Steak, Mushroom & Shallot Cream Sauce and Egg Noodle

Beef Stroganoff with Filets in a Mushroom, Shallot Cream Sauce over Pappardelle Egg Noodles

I love stroganoff.  I can remember the first time it was served to me.  My dad made it for dinner while my Mom was at her monthly bridge group - I think I was about 5 years old.  My dad had a history of serving us Liver & Onions, Ham & Beans, etc.  All things I hated.  My sister and I were terrified.

It didn't look visually appealing to a 5-year-old (the sight of mystery meat cream sauce?), but I loved it immediately.  What is even stranger than the thought of a 5-year-old loving stroganoff?  It happens to be one of Mike's favorites, too.  Fate, I think.  

Back then for a weeknight meal, we used a sirloin steak (or even ground beef on occasion), but I like to make it a little more fancy for special occasions.  This time, I made it with beef filets, shitake mushrooms and pappardelle pasta - Valentine's Day worthy, I think.  Of course, you can leave the filets whole and serve the sauce on the side- even with mashed potatoes it is delicious, if that is more your love's style.  

Beef Stroganoff
with Filets in a Mushroom, Shallot Cream Sauce over Papperdelle Egg Noodles

1 lb beef filet steaks
1 tablespoons of olive oil
sea salt & pepper
2 tablespoons of butter
1 large shallot, sliced
1 cup of Mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of Beef Stock
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 cup of Heavy Cream
1/2 cup of  Sour Cream
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of parsley, chopped
1 lb of Egg Noodles (or Pappardelle), cooked according to directions

Begin by boiling a pot of water for the noodles.  

Heat a large skillet for 2-3 minutes on high.  Coat the flank steak in olive oil and salt & pepper.  Put some oil in the pan, then cook the steak for 3-4 minutes on each side until the steak is rare to medium rare.  Longer for thick steaks, shorter for thinner.  Remove from the pan and set it aside, covered.

In the meantime, cook the noodles/pasta according to package instructions. 

In the same pan as the steaks were seared, add 2 tablespoons of butter, then the mushrooms and the shallot to saute.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  De-glaze the pan by adding the beef stock and red wine, stirring and scraping the bottom to release all of the bits into the sauce.  Add the heavy cream and cook on medium for 3-5 minutes until it has thickened.  Turn off the heat and add sour cream, dijon and worcestershire.

When pasta has finished cooking, drain water, then add a tablespoon of butter to the pot along with parsley.  Toss pasta in butter and parsley to add great color.

Slice the steak into strips and place over the pasta.  Serve over cooked egg noodles.

Searing steaks.  These thick filets take a while.  If they are very thick, I will sear, then put in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes, then let rest before slicing. 

Remove steaks, then add butter.

Add mushrooms and shallots.  Saute until tender.

Cook the pasta - I'm using Egg Papardelle, here, to make it a little more special, but regular egg noodles are also great.

I always try to give Emma job in the kitchen.   She's chopping the mushrooms with her pumpkin knife - one of her favorites at Mimi's house.

She's showing off her new haircut : )

The wine, beef stock and cream have been added - now cooking down.

The parsley just gives the pasta some color to this otherwise brownish dish.

Bubbling to reduce.  Next, remove from heat and add sour cream, dijon and worcestershire

 Pour sauce over steak.  You can also stir/mix all together in skillet to coat noodles with the sauce - Mike's preferred method. 

Hope you enjoy this!   Here is a link to my version with mashed potatoes - really good, too.

Next, I'm working on Chocolate Souffles with Emma today... failed twice last week, so hoping for a better run today.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Valentine's Day Sale | $5 Shipping is Back!

Valentine's Day Sale!  and... $5 Shipping on Orders over $50 is Back

It was 68 degrees here yesterday... I'm ready for Spring!  So, I'm in pre-spring cleaning mode at the store, moving everything out to make room.  In the Sale section, I've marked down lots of products, including Valentine's Day goodies - cookie cutters, ribbons, baking supplies, etc.  Almost everything 20-50%.  I'm also reactivating the $5 Shipping on orders over $50.  Go crazy.  Buy goodies for your Valentines and a couple of things for yourself ; )

I'll be back tomorrow to share one of my all time favorite recipes for a Valentine's Day dinner.  The ingredients include filet, cream, mushrooms and wine... any guesses?!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Emma Quality Time | Love Bug Cupcakes | Easy Valentines with Emma

Love Bugs!

This is more of a photo essay instead of a step-by-step guide to making these Love Bug Cupcakes... sorry!  I can tell you that they are sooo simple.  I made Chocolate Cake Mix cupcakes in various sizes (Brown Jumbo, Gold Striped & Petite Tart Pans), then a simple butter, milk and powdered sugar icing.

I tinted it red, pink and left some white.  Then, I iced the wing shapes on the back of the cupcakes (when cooled) and then Emma applied the heart sprinkles.

I always try to have our holiday activities be a true, quality time experience for us.  I want her to look back on these moments and remember what it felt like to be in the kitchen together.  I don't want it to be about the mess, or about the result, but about her having the freedom (and my full trust in her) to make something all by herself that is beautiful.

I think a lot about what "quality time" means... something you both enjoy doing together.  For Emma and me, crafting and baking in the kitchen is our favorite "quality time."  She gets the reins to create and lick all she wants, and I get to do my favorite thing... watch her have a great time while I mix icing faster than she can pipe.  Yes, there is clean-up, but icing is easier than glitter : )

Don't they look great in the Pink Bakery Boxes (10 for $8)?!  Four cupcakes fit perfectly... so, one boxed mix and about 1 hour will make you 5 Love Bug Boxes of 4 cupcakes to give, and 4 cupcakes to eat : )

Emma had to get in on some of the icing, too... these were the ones we ate!

I really love the bigger "Mama" ones in the Petite Tart Pans with the babies in the Gold Stripes.

They work great in a Largo Cello Bag.  Cute for teacher's gifts or school treats.

Products Used :

Gold Striped Cupcake Papers
Brown Jumbo Cupcake Papers
Petite Tart Pans
Giant Heart Sprinkles
Disposable Pastry Bags
Pink Bakery Boxes
Cotton Twine
Red Heart Tags

Paper Cupcake Valentines
on sale, $10

Emma also enjoyed making these paper cupcake Valentines for her friends.  Everything is included in the kit to make 28 Cupcake Cards and they include a little treat pouch to attach to the back.

The weather has been so pleasant here - lucky for Mimi & Papi, Emma's painting has moved from their mudroom to the porch!

I really try to give her complete freedom when she is creating - she has her own ideas and talks and makes up stories as she goes.

Such sweet concentration.

Painting keeps her more occupied than the iPad - Thank Goodness!!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Beef Bourguignon | Trip Down Memory Lane

Beef Bourguignon

This is a post I wrote four years ago, in January, just after we were married, and just before we moved to Mass and got pregnant with Emma.  There are not many photos or posts that I look back on from four years ago and love.  Usually I am too critical of my developing (sub-par?) photography skills and undeveloped styling skills.  Not this post.  1) The recipe is goooooood.  2) It brings me right back to that moment in our lives, in our first house.

I don't wish for a second that I was back at that pre-family stage of our life, but I do miss being settled in our home - a home that we worked so hard on, were so proud of and comfortable in.  There is something about your first home that will never be like another.  We did all of our house projects ourselves - each project was just a weekend, a couple hundred dollars and a trip to Home Depot away.  While I feel so fortunate that we're now in a place that we can actually have a professional do the work for us, sometimes I miss those DIY transformations we were able to do ourselves in a weekend.  We will definitely have some little projects to do ourselves, but for the most part all of the big stuff we be done for us.  Maybe our contractor will let me help with the tiling : )

If you want to join me in my little trip down memory lane, see photos the from our first house, here.

From January 2011:

Beef Bourguignon sounds complicated and intimidating.  Or at least I thought it did.  Until I made it, and discovered it was just beef stew with herbs and red wine.  What makes it even better is that it is done all in one pot, and it makes the house smell amazing.

French Beef Stew 
(Beef Bourguignon)

2-3 pound Chuck Roast
3 tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons of sea salt
2 teaspoons of pepper
4 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of red wine
5 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of rosemary (dried or fresh)
1 bunch of fresh thyme
4 bay leaves
1 cup of carrots, 1-inch dice
1 cup of potatoes, 1-inch dice
1 cup of mushrooms, 1-inch dice
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
1 loaf of crusty french bread (baguette)
1 clove of garlic (raw)

Coat the Chuck Roast with olive oil, salt & pepper.  Heat a large dutch oven on the stove top for 2 minutes, then sear the roast for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Add stock, wine, garlic, and herbs.  Cover and put it in the oven for 4 hours at 225 degrees.

After 4 hours of cooking, add the carrots, potatoes and mushrooms.  Cook for for 30-45 minutes longer.  Remove from the oven.  Place the pot on the stove, and remove the roast from the stock and wine sauce, placing it on a platter.  Cover and let it cool for 10 minutes.   Leave the sauce (with herbs and vegetables) in the pot on the stove.

Meanwhile, thicken the sauce (that remained in the pot) by microwaving 2 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons of flour to the butter, stirring it until smooth.  Whisk it into the sauce until smooth.  Cook on medium heat until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken.  You may add another batch of the thickening mixture, if you desire.

Remove the fat and bones from the Chuck Roast.  Shred the beef into large pieces back into the sauce.

To serve, slice the baguette, then toast it a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Rub the piece of raw garlic onto each piece.  Place one piece into the bottom of each soup bowl and ladle in the beef stew.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Coeur a la Creme | Recipe & Photos

Oh, you guys are in for a treat.  The result was so creamy and light, but full - almost like a very moist and creamy cheesecake... but much softer and much more luscious.  It was so simple to make - Emma helped me with the entire thing.  We whipped the cream cheese and powdered sugar, then added the room temp cream cheese and vanilla bean paste... then she scooped it into the cheesecloth lined mold - doing all of the spreading herself.  

So many times there is a lot she can help with, but I have to do some of the intricate work (much to her resistance), but this she did all by herself.  It was nice that it was completely error-proof, there was no way to mess it up.  The mold does all of the work for you - as long as she got (most of) the filling in the mold, it was perfect.

While Valentine's Day is a romantic holiday, when you have kiddos it becomes a family affair, too - and she is going to love presenting this special dessert to Dad after our Valentine's Day dinner.  Of course, as it is still three weeks away, we'll need to make another one ; )

The Coeur a la Creme Molds ($14.50) are officially in stock in my store, ready to ship.  So for those of you that ordered earlier this week, yours are on the way.  If you order now (I think only 20 or so are left?) they can be sent out today.

I followed the Barefoot Contessa's recipe (link below, her photo to the left), which was very very simple.  The only thing I substituted was using my Vanilla Bean Paste ($12) instead of using seeds scraped from a Vanilla Bean.  I used 2 teaspoons of the paste, but next time I think I'll double it for a bigger vanilla impact.

The raspberry sauce was a cinch to make, too.  You simple cook raspberries and sugar with a little bit of water for 4 minutes, then processes in food processor with raspberry jam.  I only had 1/2 cup of strawberry jam (instead of 1 cup of raspberry), and it still worked great.  I also did not add the Grand Marnier, because we were sampling on a Tuesady morning ; )

Here is the link to The Barefoot Contessa's Coeur a la Creme recipe.

Here is the mixture all wrapped up after sitting in the fridge over night.

I put the platter on top, then flipped it over.

Then just pulled the mold off.

And took off the cheesecloth to reveal the nice little pattern.

I did the raspberry sauce without Emma's help... boiling fruit and sugar + toddlers does not mix well.  She would've had her fingers in it... I know I could hardly help myself!

Then we poured the sauce all the way around and scattered raspberries.

I love the way the sauce spread into the scalloped edges of the platter.

For a dinner party, I would just scoop big spoonfuls on everyone's plate and serve extra raspberry sauce on the side in a little pitcher for them to pour over.

You'll be so impressed by how simple and delicious this raspberry sauce is.

Sampling time!  It was sooo creamy and rich - almost just like slightly sweetened thick whipped cream.  If you were serving it for a party, you could serve it with little cookies or graham crackers.  I can't wait to try a savory version with herbs and drizzled with honey, served with crackers.  I also think a lemony version would be fun for spring and summer.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lighting Update | My New Obsession, Thanks to Your Suggestions!

This is going to be quick, as I'm running to the house to meet the electrician in a little bit.   Last week I asked for your help choosing light fixtures for the new house/addition.  The one thing I was sure about was my large lantern over the dining, then two smaller versions over the island.  You can read the other details about choices, here.

I received an email from Tessa (Nine and Sixteen, you all know) and she said, I think you should consider something more dramatic over the dining table - something that says, this is its own area.  I thought about it - ok, maybe I would look around and see what I can find.  Maybe an hour or two later, I receive a comment on the post from Caroline (thanks, Caroline!) that contained a couple of links, including this stunning TT Linear Branched 10-Light Chandelier.  Done.  In LOVE.

It is really similar to the scones I selected for our bathroom - which reconfirmed the choice.

My only hesitation is that it is a little more delicate than I had be looking at, but I love everything about it.  I think it will add an elegant feel to that corner of our big room and make it feel special... and I can already see the garland dripping off it at Christmas.

Meanwhile at the house, Mike held our large lantern up in our room and it will be the perfect size to go above our bed.

By holding it where the island will be we decided to go with two of the smaller size there - so glad we had this one to check it out before we had them made... by hand.

Another hardware choice I've "decided" (I say that in quotes because I haven't actually ordered, so you never know if I might change my mind...) is doing porcelain door knobs on our interior doors with oil rubbed bronze.  It is a little different than I had originally thought I would do, but I felt that everything was becoming a little too fancy, and these knobs say country house to me.  I really want our house to feel charming and cozy, unpretentious and comfy.   I feel like these knobs will make it feel like a little bit of a farmy cottage, which I love.   So, painted cream doors, this knob hardware, oil rubbed hinges and brass lighting.   I think it will be a great eclectic, but comfortable mix.

 The debate for Emma's room, Guest rooms and Laundry is still up for debate.  I do like this lantern, though...

Another reader (thanks, Cristina!) shared a resource for these Sandwich Lanterns (also made on Cape Cod) that are made of solid copper.  They are much less expensive than the ones I originally picked, and I love the copper on the back porch.  So, these will be going the length of the porch.

I think I'll also have a couple of these flanking my mudroom french doors, too.

Thank you so much for your help - these picks have made all the difference in my choices!  What an awesome community this is : )  Thank you!

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