Saturday, November 6, 2010

Beer Bread

While making beef stew, I realized that I needed a hearty bread to go with it. I am not a typical bread-maker, so I wanted something quick and easy. I remember LOVING the Tastefully Simple beer bread, but didn't have any on hand. A quick internet search (what would we do without Google?!) and I found a "copycat" recipe that I thought looked pretty good.

Turns out, this version is really close to the original. I couldn't really tell any difference, so I will be making this from now on....much cheaper than actually buying the TS kit too!!

Beer Bread

3 C. self rising flour
1/2 C. sugar
12 oz. beer (seasonal or flavored beers are great, but any beer will do! You can also use another carbonated drink if you don't have any beer on hand)
3 Tbs. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, sugar, and beer. Mix just until combined. Spoon into a greased loaf pan. Pour melted butter over the batter and bake for 55-60 minutes.

Homestyle Beef Stew

With summer officially over and fall making way toward the colder months of winter, I am really excited to start cooking some hearty fall meals. One of my all-time favorites is beef stew. This one-pot meal is a great Sunday night dinner because the longer you allow the meat to cook, the more tender it is.

While this isn't a quick meal, it's definitely worth the wait. Plus, the smells that fill your house are warm, comforting, and make you look forward to dinner (and leftovers!)

Homestyle Beef Stew

2 lbs. lean beef (round steak is a good choice here)
4 tsp. salt, divided
3 tsp. pepper, divided
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 lg. can tomato sauce
2 C. water
3 bay leaves
1/2 C. good quality red wine (use anything that you'd drink by the glass - and pour yourself a glass while you're at it!)
4-6 potatoes (I like Yukon gold or baby red potatoes - no need to peel these!), cubed
2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 package of frozen peas

Heat oil in a large dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot. Sprinkle meat with 1 tsp. pepper and 2 tsp. salt. Brown the meat until well seared. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits as you stir. Add the tomato sauce, water, salt and pepper, and bay leaves. Cover and simmer 1 hour.

Add the potatoes, carrots, and onion. Cook on low until the potatoes and carrots are cooked through. Add the frozen peas and turn off the stew. Find and remove the bay leaves. Serve with beer bread or cornbread. Enjoy!

*Note - if you feel like your stew is too thin, or you don't have enough time to properly simmer the stew to thicken it, you can mix 2 Tb. of cornstarch with water and add the the stew. This will thicken it without altering the taste or texture.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Caramel Club Bars

I came across these interesting little treats and was a little see, they acutally use Club crackers. Yep, plain crackers...weird, right? But believe me, these are really, really good! I also brought these to a party, cut into pretty small squares, and they were the perfect after dinner bite of sweet and salty

One tip to remember: You must use unsalted butter for this recipe, if you don’t they will be too salty

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Caramel Club Bars

45 Club Crackers
2 sticks butter
1 Cup packed light brown sugar
1 Cup peanut butter chips
1 1/2 Cups chocolate chips, melted either on double broiler or in microwave

Place 15 club crackers in the bottom of an 8×8 inch square baking pan that’s been lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1/2 Cup peanut butter chips on crackers.

Melt butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium high heat stirring constantly for 4 minutes, until bubbly, smooth and creamy caramel forms. Pour 1/2 Cup or so of caramel over peanut butter chips then add another layer of crackers, peanut butter chips and caramel. Top with one final layer of crackers then spread with melted chocolate.

Cut into 15 bars (or more. I cut them into smaller, bite-sized bars and got about 25 bars)

Jalapeno Popper Dip

For a Halloween party, I decided to bring a really easy appetizer. That way, I could enjoy the party without having to worry too much about what I brought. This dip turned out to be really popular at the party and it's amazing how simple it is. Just mix everything a bowl, sprinkle the bread crumb topping, and bake.

The dip would also be a really great addition to any Sunday Football party or another crowded get-together. I served it with slices baguette (my favorite) and also a carrot, snap pea, and broccoli medley to give it some color and make me feel slightly less guilty about all the creamy goodness!

Oh, and please forgive the photo. I'm not kidding when I say that people plowed into this so fast that it was hard to get a good picture. I even heard that whatever was leftover after I'd left was eaten by the spoonful by a few of the guys! Plus, I was ready to get partying, so you'll have to trust me on this one. It not only tastes amazing, but looks really pretty in person too. Oh, and you can always check out Annie's Eats (where I got the recipe) for a beautiful picture of the dip.

Jalapeno Popper Dip
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayo
1 (4 oz.) can chopped mild green chiles
1 (4 oz.) can diced hot jalapeƱo peppers
1/2 cup shredded Mexican style cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, green chiles, jalapeƱos, and shredded cheeses. Mix thoroughly with a spoon or spatula until smooth and evenly combined. Spread the mixture into a baking dish (approximately 9 x 9-inches).

In a second bowl, combine the Panko and Parmesan and stir with a fork until combined. Sprinkle over the cream cheese mixture in the baking dish. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the mixture is hot and the topping is golden. Serve warm with baguette slices, vegetables, etc. as desired.