The chef in the family is me. I create many dishes based on flavor, taste, experience and pure creativity. Some, are amazing, some, have been choked on and then tossed. So when I feel I need inspiration because my culinary creativity is a bit constipated I reach for my cookbooks. The holiday season is my favorite time of year, baking pies, cookies, and desserts is my specialty. But with the holiday seasons I am also finding I am running out of time to make regular scheduled meals.
Admittedly I like to be a lazy cook. Most days I would rather lounge on my couch and let the cooking be done by itself, I struggle some days to find the pure gumption to concoct a creative meal. Another admission, I rarely if ever, utilize my slow cooker. One might think with twins that I would be the slow cooker queen. Alas I am not and fail miserably to even have an ounce of creativity for it’s use aside from chili or chicken and dumplings.
Apparently there is a gamut of delicious recipes that span even farther than traditional dinners, stews, chili’s and dips. The slow cooker can be utilized for any meal at any time. With the cool weather here in Arizona and my social life that
has become more bountiful than it ever was when I was in my 20s, thanks to my children, I am finding that my slow cooker is a time and life saver when running amok. Scouts, church, volunteer events, school luncheons, field trips, Jeep owner gatherings and revelry with friends creates for little time to actually exercise my true culinary talents.
So the Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes Book is chock full of ideas for dinners….and now desserts. I chose one of my favorites to nosh on for dinner in a rush. Plus if you are like me and would love to use your slow cooker more, this is the book for you. Here is a new spin on beef stew for the whole family to stay warm these fall and winter nights:
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 lbs stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp vegetable oil (approx.)
6 tiny new potatoes, halved or quartered
2 parsnips, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 1â„2-inch wedges
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup beef broth
1â„2 cup dry red wine
1 can (7 1â„2 oz) pizza sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1. In a heavy plastic bag, combine flour, salt and 1â„2 tsp of the pepper. In batches, add beef to bag and toss to coat with flour mixture. Discard excess flour mixture.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat half the oil over medium-high heat. Cook beef in batches, adding more oil as needed, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Stir in potatoes, parsnips, fennel and onion.
3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine broth, wine, pizza sauce, garlic, rosemary and the remaining pepper. Pour over beef mixture.
4. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 5 hours, until bubbling. Just before serving, stir in spinach until wilted.
Crush dried rosemary between your thumb and fingers before adding it to a dish. This helps release the full aromatic flavor of the herb.
Today I begin my marathon of holiday cooking. I truly love to cook and as I mentioned desserts. I had no idea this dessert was a holiday classic. In the Best of Bridge Holiday Classics, you can find over 225 recipes like this Chocolate Raspberry Torte that are sure to be a hit for holiday entertaining:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 squares (1 oz. / 30 g size) unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 cups light brown sugar,packed
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup coffee flavoured liqueur
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp. icing sugar
1-12 oz. jar raspberry or strawberry jam
Chocolate Sour Cream Icing:
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup sour cream
dash of salt
fresh raspberries or strawberries
1 good quality dark chocolate bar (at room temperature).
Preheat oven to 350F. (180 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch (1.5 L) layer cake pans. Sift dry ingredients. Melt chocolate and let cool. In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, and eggs at a high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla. At low speed, beat in flour mixture (in fourths), alternating with sour cream (in thirds). Add coffee and liqueur, blending until smooth. Pour batter into pans and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until surface springs back. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool on wire racks.
Filling:Beat cream with icing sugar until stiff. Refrigerate. Slice cake layers in half horizontally to make four layers. (Hint: Cake layers slice more easily if frozen first.) Place one layer, cut side up, on cake plate. Spread with 1/2 cup (125 mL) raspberry jam and 1/2 cup (125 mL) whipped cream mixture. Repeat with remaining layers, ending with top layer, cut side down.
Icing:Melt chocolate chips in top of double boiler. Add sour cream and salt and beat until icing is creamy and smooth. Ice top and sides of cake. Garnish: Using a vegetable peeler, shave along long side of chocolate bar to create small curls. Make lots! â€“ and â€œspillâ€ some onto the cake plate.
We hope you love these two books as much as we do! I know I enjoy having a library of cookbooks in my arsenal when I want to create something different and I’m short on time and sometimes creativity. Now you too can have these in your collection of quality cookbooks.
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