French Fridays with Dorie – Beef Daube with Carrots and Rigatoni

In a shocking act of forethought I made this dish last week. I knew that with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, our 4 day trip to MN, and getting back into the swing of things at work there would be no way I would have this done and blogged by Friday. So, yay me! But I can’t pat myself on the back too much since I haven’t even made the goat cheese mini puffs from two weeks ago yet. Le sigh.

I called the butcher to find out if they had beef cheeks in stock since that’s what the recipe originally called for but they said I would have to wait a week so I said “Chuck roast it is!” I’ll be interested to see how many of us can actually get the beef cheeks.

This recipe marked the maiden voyage of my newest Le Creuset piece – the braiser! I have wanted this one for awhile and I earned it by teaching a Learning to Love Le Creuset class with Bek last month. That is a topic I feel very qualified to teach! 🙂

This was another hands-off recipe that made the house smell great and allowed me to do lots of important things while it was braising away in the oven….like read blogs and catch up on The Walking Dead (things are going down in post-apocalyptic America people!) and paint my nails. We had some company over for dinner and they were kind enough to let me finish my photos before digging in. I would definitely make this again because it was easy and a real people pleaser. If you want to give it a try, I found a very similar Dorie recipe online here.

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! The dinner that I made was kind of a mixed bag. The meatloaf was outstanding and I would definitely recommend it (the link is in my previous post) but I’m not so sure about the Pumpkin Scalloped Potatoes. I think if I made those again I would definitely make them more saucy – they were kind of dry. And speaking of dry – I tried braising some turkey legs but I really overshot it on the time because they started out looking like this:

and ended up looking like this:

Well obviously not exactly like this but you get the idea. Whoopsie. Also my pie kind of sucked which was a real disappointment as I’m mostly into big holiday dinners for the dessert. I mean, it looked amazing, no?

But the flavor was really meh. I used the Holiday Pumpkin Tart (or pie) recipe from BFMHTY by Dorie and it just wasn’t my favorite. There were 3 tablespoons of rum in it and I think it overpowered everything else. It was a real bummer. Good thing Cassidy saved the day with a good old-fashioned Libby’s right off the can pie. The dinner we had at home on Sunday was delicious but that’s no surprise. I made the Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Swirl Pie from EmmyCooks and it was universally liked by the few of us who had room for dessert (that always includes me). Now I am off to find cute holiday cards for the exchange so wish me luck!

Baking with Julia – Best Ever Chocolate Chunk Brownies

So I don’t know if everyone’s noticed, but the holiday season is upon us and I am just NOT feeling it this year. It’s probably a by-product of working in retail for the last 5 Christmases or the fact that I don’t have any children that I need to pretend for but I am distinctly not looking forward to the holidays. I just find the whole thing stressful and un-fun. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely looking forward to seeing and spending time with my family but the travel and being away from work when we’re sure to be incredibly busy is really stressing me out. Plus it’s totally PMS-eat-your-feelings-time all up in here so these brownies really couldn’t have been more appropriate. And if you’re offended that I mentioned my lady-times in this medium then you’re probably a man and you can just get bent for the next 3-5 days. Capiche?

I mixed these up last night and they are definitely different than other brownies I have made.

They start out in the best possible way (butter and 2 different kinds of chocolately darkness making friends in my little makeshift double-boiler). Then it gets a little funky with the whole eggs and sugar step. The directions were a tad confusing but I got it in the end.

Check out those beautiful whipped eggs getting cozy with the deep, dark chocolate. Try to ignore my crusty oven mitt in the corner. I keep meaning to throw it in the wash, but it just never happens. Just for funsies I added in a whole bag of Nestle Chocolate Chunks because I like there to be some texture in my brownies – as long as the texture isn’t walnuts. Walnuts are the worst. The end.

Everyone was talking about how they had to bake these for way longer than directed but I took them out right at 26 minutes and I think they’re pretty perfect. The directions said they should be kind of ooey-gooey and they definitely are but I am a fan of that. I didn’t let them cool completely because why on earth would I do that and when I ate a warm one it was very reminiscent of a lava cake.

Totally yummy x 1000. I contemplated throwing in some chopped Twix bars because my lovely husband unit bought me a whole bag of Fun-Size Twix but I am going to save those for another project. Or I might just continue eating them until they’re gone. Only time will tell. My only complaint about this recipe would be all the folding. I hate folding. It is also the worst. On par with walnuts. But I am forced to admit that it was worth it. If you want to brave all the folding and weird egg techniques that contributing baker Rick Katz made me go through before I got my chocolate fix, head over to A Beautiful Mess for the recipe.

In other news, it’s almost Thanksgiving. We are doing a small meal on Thursday with just Tristan and I and a friend and then going home to MN for the weekend to have big Thanksgiving on Sunday with my family. Here’s what I’m thinking of making the for the little meal:

Cranberry Meatloaf

Pumpkin Scalloped Potatoes

Roasted Turkey Breast

Stuffing

Perfect Apple Crisp

Yeah I know it seems like a lot of food for just three of us but I can’t help myself. I’m mostly handling the desserts for our Sunday dinner and I think I’m going to make Sweet Potato Pie with Cream Cheese Swirl instead of a plain ol’ pumpkin pie. Clearly the baking aspect of the holidays is still appealing to me. Hope everyone has a great weekend filled with delicious foodstuffs!

Rainy Day S’mores Bars

There were only two things I wanted to do today: go for a run and go to a 3 year old’s birthday party. Unfortunately I dicked around for too long this morning and was thwarted by the weather. It had been raining for about half an hour but I thought it had let up enough (not stopped raining completely but slowed to a drizzle) for a quick run. I got about halfway down our alley before it started SERIOUSLY raining. So I sprinted home laughing like a maniac in the pouring rain and that was my run. Instead of partaking of some healthy cardio, I made these bars. Totally unhealthy but totally easy and comforting on a rainy day when your plans are shot.

Rainy Day S’Mores Bars

4 T unsalted butter

1 10oz bag of mini marshmallows

7 cups Golden Grahams

2 1/4 cups mini chocolate chips

Grease a 9×9 square pan. Melt the butter over low heat in a large saucepan. Add the marshmallows and stir until the mallows are totally melted. Remove from the heat and dump in the cereal. Stir until well-mixed, then dump in 2 cups of the mini chocolate chips. Mix well, then press evenly into the greased pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of chips over the top for extra cuteness. Let the bars set for at least 15 minutes, then turn them out, flip them over and cut into individual bars.
These are super simple and quick and will definitely be popular with any s’mores lovers in your life!