O Olive Oil Product Review

I was so excited to be one of the eight bloggers chosen to participate in the O Olive Oil and eRecipeCards recipe challenge and product review. Being as passionate as I am about quality foods and fantastic flavors, the fact that O Olive Oils are all organic made me happy. They use only certified organic fruit from small family owned California farms. Then I began to read more about their crushing process and I was very excited to try their product!

O Olive Oil is the original maker of citrus crushed olive oils. They have been making their olive oils since 1995 and their barrel aged wine vinegars since 1997. I couldn't believe I hadn't heard of them before! Bad foodie, bad bad foodie!! I can tell you now that I have found them I will never let them go!

The difference between their crushed olive oil and infused or flavored olive oils is downright amazing. I have to admit, I was sure they would be good but I was not prepared for just how good they would be. Most infused or flavored olive oils have left me less than happy. I used to cook with them awhile back and just realized it was better to use the actual ingredient + the olive oil VS the infused or flavored oil.

Then I received my beautiful little bottle of Tahitian Lime Olive Oil. As soon as I uncorked it the smell of lime wafted up from the bottle and made my mouth water. I couldn't wait to taste it. I had planned a family tasting so I could get multiple opinions, and I did do that, but I couldn't wait for everyone else. I grabbed some bread and drizzled a bit of the heavenly smelling oil on it. WOW now THAT'S lime I thought. I couldn't believe it, I had to taste it again. It was like lime juice with a slightly buttery flavor. At that point I couldn't wait to cook with it.

The quality of their products made my little foodie brain go on tilt and by the time I was at the grocery store I had three different proteins in mind. Pacing the butcher block I couldn't decide so I bought all three. I figured I would not only have the family do a tasting of the oil, but also allow them to be the deciding factor when it came to which recipe I posted. It was a close call but the Cilantro Lime Cod with Sherry Vinegar Reduction won. I used the same recipe for salmon and chicken so you could substitute those for the cod if you like. They ALL are fantastic.

The only downside to the whole process is that I used all of my oil. What little I had leftover from cooking the entire family devoured with the bread! Thank goodness the wonderful people at O Olive Oil are offering a 20% discount on ANY order exclusive to users of eRecipeCards.com. PLUS free shipping on orders over $60 (after discount). Just use the promo code: e-recipecards when you check out.

I can tell you that with that offer I am not only stocking up myself but the foodies in my life will be getting something yummy under their Christmas tree from me!

Disclosure: I received a selection of products to sample but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Cilantro Lime Cod with Sherry Vinegar Reduction

When I was chosen as one of eight bloggers from eRecipeCards to participate in the O Olive Oil recipe challenge I was so excited. Being fairly new to the food blog community, it was such an honor to be chosen to compete. I could hardly wait for my box of product to get here and the ideas for recipes bounced around in my head like ping pong balls. I talked about it non stop to family and friends and even though Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, I couldn't wait for it to pass so I could get down to the business of making my dish.

Then, on November 26th, my father passed away. My world was a blur. I didn't know which end was up or down, let alone how to write this recipe, or even if I wanted to do it. The idea of being a part of this without one of my greatest fans and supporters was mind numbing. But then it struck me. He would have been so upset if I didn't do what I love because of him. I realized that even if he isn't physically standing beside me he is with me and cheering me on. So this is dedicated to my father.

When I received my products I immediately opened the box so I could try them. I had originally said I would wait for the whole family so we could try them together and I could get their impressions along with mine. Well, that idea just fell by the wayside once I had that box in my hands. I ripped into it like a kid at Christmas!  As soon as I tasted the O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil I knew I wanted to do something with cilantro and lime together. The second thing that popped into my head was fish. I am a fish addict so it is not surprising that my mind went there that quickly.

The Sherry Vinegar threw me for a loop a bit though. I knew I didn't want to just make a vinaigrette. I wanted something that would show the quality of the ingredient better than that. I had made red wine and white wine reductions in the past, so why not a sherry reduction? I was so excited to put this all together. I was so excited actually that when we went to the store to buy the ingredients I ended up buying salmon, chicken, AND cod! I think it was because I had 3 other people with me giving me their opinions, at least that is what I am going to blame it on.

I can tell you that all 3 dishes were amazing and the whole family said they would want them again (I hinted that I needed more O Olive Oil for Christmas) but the cod won out by an ever so small margin.

Cilantro Lime Cod with Sherry Vinegar Reduction

4 6-ounce fillets of Cod (can substitute salmon or chicken here)
1/4 cup O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil, plus 1 tablespoon for cooking
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
1 cup couscous ( I used sun dried tomato with spinach couscous)

Lay your fish out and check for bones. Salt and pepper the fillets. In a large plastic zipper bag, add the 1/4 cup O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil, cilantro, and garlic. Using your fingers combine the ingredients in the bag and then add the fish fillets. Make sure to coat each piece of fish. Place in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld at least 1 hour, but longer will add more flavor.

In a small sauce pan, over high heat, bring the cup of O Sherry Vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer until it reduces by half. Remove from heat.

Heat a large skillet or grill pan to medium high. Coat the pan with 1 tablespoon of the O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil. Add the cod and cook for about 4 minutes, carefully turn the fish over and cook until the fish is fully opaque.

While the fish is cooking prepare the couscous as the package instructs.

Place 1/2 cup of couscous in the center of the plate and top with a portion of cod. Drizzle with the O Sherry Vinegar reduction.


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Rachael Ray Wednesday - Veal Scallopine with Dijon Sauce, Asparagus, and Avocados

OK, I actually made this on the 14th. It was my daughters birthday and as usual I asked her what she wanted for her birthday dinner. That is the routine with my kids, and has been for years. She surprised me by telling me that whatever I wanted to cook was fine with her. She even told me to try the veal recipe if I wanted. I was shocked! She was really kinda nervous about trying veal. Like I said she is my Miss Picky. But I pointed out to her that she likes lamb so she agreed to try veal.

The first thing that surprised me when I started prepping to cook the recipe was, when I removed the the veal scallopine I bought from it's packaging it was in thin strips. I have never cooked veal scallopine before, but I was expecting something more along the line of thin steak shaped pieces of meat, or rounds. That was just odd to me, but I kept on prepping. I was really surprised at how easy this was to make. The name makes it sound so, well, complicated I guess. Fancy name = lots of work, right? Nope, not true. Once I started cooking my biggest fear was overcooking the meat and making it tough but I cooked it just as is says in the recipe and it was perfect. 

I followed the recipe to the letter, like a good girl, and everything came out just as it was supposed to. I wasn't sure how to place it on the plate so I did the best I could with Rachael's instruction. Hopefully I was right. You can let me know how the picture looks.

As for the reviews, Jessi disliked it immediately. I think that could have been mostly in her head. She got herself psyched up that it she wouldn't like it, I am not sure. Kevin and I were both on the fence with it. I liked the veal, but wasn't jumping up and down about it. Kevin said he didn't like it. He did love the sauce with the avocados and asparagus though. I kind of thought this was a weird combo when I was making it, but really when you eat it all together it really was good. I am thinking about playing around with this sauce and the avocados and some other meats. 

If you like veal you will love this recipe. Rachael says "this dish is one buttery, delicious, edible ode to spring" and it really was very buttery. Like I said, I liked it but just that, liked it, wasn't head over heals in love with it. 

Veal Scallopine with Dijon Sauce, Asparagus, and Avocados


 Coarse salt
1 lemon
1 pound very thin asparagus tips
2 ripe Haas avocados
EVOO for drizzling, plus 2 tablespoons
1 1/4 pounds veal scallopine
Coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon all purpose flour, plus more for dredging
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup cream or half and half
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

In a large saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Salt the water. Add a couple of curls of rind from the lemon and the asparagus tips. Cook the tips for 3 minutes, then drain and reserve.

Cut into and around the pits of the avocados. Scoop the flesh from the avocados, and slice. Dress the slices with a little lemon juice, a drizzle of EVOO, and a pinch of salt, reserve.

Preheat your largest skillet over medium heat. Season the veal with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge the scallopine in a little flour. Add the two tablespoons of the EVOO and the two tablespoons of the butter to the hot skillet. WHen the butter melts into the oil, add the veal and cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until evenly light golden in color. Place the veal on a platter under a loose tent of foil.

Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the tablespoon of flour to the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the wine and scrape up the pans drippings. Whisk the stock into the wine and add the thyme, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir in the cream, then remove from the heat.

Arrange the asparagus and sliced avocados over the veal and pour a line of sauce over the top. Garnish the dinner plates or platter with chopped chives and serve.

Serves 4

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions

If you are anything like me, the good old green beans casserole is one of the Thanksgiving side dishes you have had every Thanksgiving since you can remember. My Grandmother and then my Mother made the Campbell's cream of mushroom soup green beans every year. As a kid I loved it, especially the fried onions that went on top. I always hogged them and loved them so very much.

Roasted Tomato Salsa Roja

I have been so busy working on Thanksgiving side dishes and coming up with what I want to bake that I decided to take a little break and make something out of the realm. I mean Thanksgiving is about football too right? Well for some of us it is and you can't just eat leftovers, you need some good tasty munchies to go with those turkey sandwiches.

When I am planning munchie type foods I always fall back on my love of Mexican food. There is a little hole in the wall restaurant in Chula Vista, CA that I have been going to since I was about 15 years old. They have a hot sauce (salsa roja) that I just adore and miss soooooo much. So I decided to try my hand on making some of my own. Even though I didn't nail their hot sauce just right, I did come up with a flavorful substitute that my family just loved. Well those of us that enjoy salsa loved it at least.

This recipe is a very easy one and can be changed around to suit your taste. Want more roasted tomato flavor and less heat? Subsitute a few more tomatoes for some of the Serrano peppers. Like it hotter? Add a few more Serannos or maybe use Jalapenos for that roasted pepper flavor with a bit less heat. Super simple and SUPER good!

Halve your tomatoes and drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle them with kosher salt.

Cut the tops off of your Serrano peppers, halve your onions, and peel the outer skin aay from the garlic cloves. Scatter them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

Cook at 375 degrees F for about 45 minutes (until the peppers start to look charred and the tomatoes are slumping a bit)

Puree everything in a blender or use and immersion blender. You will have to work in a couple of batches.

The result, a creamy, roasted, spicy sauce perfect for chips or any of your Mexican favorites!

Roasted Tomato Salsa Roja  

20 Roma tomatoes, halved
10 Serrano peppers, tops cut off
2 or 3 large onions, halved
10 large cloves of garlic, outer skin peeled but individual cloves still unpealed
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Scatter tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic cloves on two baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until the peppers look charred and the tomatoes are slumping up. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Remove the garlic from it's skin and place it along with the tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro in a blender (you can use and immersion blender as well). Working in batches puree all of the ingredients until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place in a container and refrigerate for at least an hour. The flavors will develop more the longer it sits. 


Creamed Corn the Healthy Way

I look forward to Thanksgiving for so many reasons but the food is of course one of those reasons. There are certain foods that we just associate with the holidays. This creamed corn is one of those foods. Don't ask me why I seem to only make this at the holidays though. It is a simple recipe that tastes oh so good. My daughter always gets excited when she knows I am making it.

One of the things I love so much about this recipe is that the corn comes out so creamy and sweet but there is no, yes I said NO heavy cream in it and trust me, you will never miss it!

Sauteed Broccoli with Garlic

With Thanksgiving coming up I have been on the search for tasty side dishes that might be not the traditional foods we are used to. We all love broccoli here, something I never thought I would say (thank goodness for developing pallets as the kids got older) so my thoughts of course jumped to this versatile veggie.

I wanted to make sure it was flavorful but easy to make. I mean who wants to be slaving away in the kitchen all day on Thanksgiving when everyone else is enjoying some wine and being social right? I like to come up with sides that you can either make ahead and reheat right before the meal or, ones that will take just a few moments to whip up at the last minute. This recipe is simple and easy to make but fits that bill. You will be able to enjoy the day AND get a meal on the table that everyone will love!

We enjoy a lot of garlic here, if you prefer you can reduce the amount of garlic to suit your families tastes.

Sauteed Broccoli with Garlic

  • 1 pound broccoli
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large pinch dried red chili flakes, or to taste
  • Kosher salt to taste

Cut the broccoli into 1 1/2-inch florets. In a large pot of salted water, cook the broccoli until tender about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and refresh the broccoli under cold running water.
When ready to serve, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the chili flakes and saute for 30 seconds more. Add the broccoli and saute over high heat, tossing until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt. Serve immediately

Serves 4

What could be any easier than that?
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Super Mashers with Steak and Pepper Hash

Since I missed my Rachael Ray Wednesday due to this lingering yuck I have, I went in search of a meal to fill that gap and found this one. I really liked the sound of this recipe. I mean it has peppers in it and I LOVE peppers! Any heat in a recipe is just a huge plus for me, actually for most in this house not just me. If you add mashed potatoes to the mix you will please the whole family. My Dad has been known to, on numerous occasions, make a meal out of just mashed potatoes! 

I know it seems that I am obsessed with peppers, but for some reason later in my life I have developed a love for them. Maybe part of it is that I read the spicier the food, the more calories your body burns. So bring on the heat as far as I am concerned! 

I was a little nervous because, as I have mentioned before, Kevin is VERY picky when it comes to red meat. If it isn't rib eye he doesn't want it...PERIOD! But I have been breaking him in slowly with the main reason being that who can afford to cook rib eye for every steak meal you make? This one calls for thinly sliced sirloin. When I was at the grocery store I saw a package of thinly sliced beef and it said "great for stir fry" on it. I asked the butcher if it was comparable to the sliced sirloin my recipe called for and she told me yes. So I grabbed three packages (the recipe calls for 1 1/3 pounds but I just grabbed a little over 1 1/2 pounds). I grabbed all my yummy peppers and away I went.

Now I get ready to cook and as I am reading down the recipe I realize that, once again, my ADD obviously kicked in and I somehow overlooked 2 items on the ingredient list! ARG!! I am going to have to make sure and read the ingredient lists three times each just to make sure I don't do this anymore. Maybe I can blame this one on my Nyquil clouded brain? I can try right? 

To be honest I was worried about the meat being tough. While you are cooking the recipe instructs you to slide the beef off to one side of the pan and cook the veggies on the other side. I stole a bit of the meat to take a taste and it was really chewy. I was so bummed. I knew that would get a less than favorable review. But I went back to the business of cooking the whole meal  before I passed judgement.

After the veggies cook a bit it calls for you to mix the meat and veggies and cook for a few more minutes "like a stir fry". Evidently the amount of cooking that took place between sliding the meat to the side and stir frying was the perfect amount. The meat was just right! I was so happy, and relieved.

I missed the scallions and the lime on the recipe so I used a little bit of lemon juice to add some citrus flavor and just had to do without the scallions. I will say the potatoes were good and I think the scallions would have made them even better. I couldn't taste the lemon juice, but again I agree it would have been better with the lime. All that aside, this really was a good meal. The mix of peppers gave it a sweet/spicy thing going on, and eating it with potatoes in the same bite really just set everything off. I of course reserved my opinion until I heard from the other diners. Kevin immediately said he really liked it. Color me shocked!! My response to that was "Really?". I was just completely prepared for him to hate it he really caught me off guard. Ok, now I am waiting for Miss Picky Pants to weigh in. She of course didn't eat the peppers, but the steak still had the pepper flavor, and there is a bit of Franks Red Hot in it to boot. She said SHE loved it. WOW what a pleasant surprise. It went from a recipe, in my mind, that no one would want a repeat of, to one that can get marked down as a keeper. Nice!!

Oh, a small side note, I went ahead and mixed the cheese in with the mashed potatoes rather than sprinkling it on top. Just a personal preference for me. Also, the recipe calls for 10 ounces of shredded cheddar. Well, it comes in 8 ounce bags so I only used the 8 ounces and it tasted just fine.

Super Masher with Steak and Pepper Hash


4 large starchy potatoes, such as Idaho
coarse salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tables spoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1 1/3 pound 1 inch thick beef sirloin, trimmed and thinly sliced
coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 Anaheim or poblano chilies (Anaheim are a bit hotter), seeded and thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
several drops of hot sauce, such as Franks Red Hot, to taste (I add a couple of tablespoons!)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk depending on how soft you like your mashers.
10 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Peel the taters and cut them into small chunks. Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Uncover, add salt to season, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

In a small pot over medium low heat, add about 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Add the butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the garlic. Saute the garlic for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the scallions and remove the pan from the heat. Reserve.

Heat a large non stick skillet over high heat. Season the sliced steak with salt and pepper, then heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. The oil will smoke--don't freak out, just add the meat and start searing it up. Brown the strip on all sides, hit with some Worcestershire sauce, then push it off to one side of the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the peppers, chilies, and onions, season with salt and pepper, then toss them around, searing all the edges, for another minute or two before combining all the meat and veggies together. Add the thyme and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, keeping everything moving around like a stir-fry. Turn off the heat and drizzle some hot sauce and the lime juice over the steak and veggies. Adjust the seasoning.

Drain the potatoes, then return them to the hot pot to evaporate some of the water content. Add the reserved garlic and scallion mixture to the potatoes along with the sour cream and start smashing away with a masher. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk if needed. Season the super mashers with salt and pepper.

Pile up one fourth of the potatoes on each plate. Top with a generous handful of cheddar cheese. Pile up meat and veggies on top of the super mashers and serve. The heat of the meat and veggies will melt the cheese.

Serves 4

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Patties with Pan Gravy and Sour Cream Tomato Smashed Potatoes

I trying to plan the next weeks meals I am still feeling a bit sick. Normally a process that leaves me feeling starved and ready to cook 5 meals at once was actually a chore. I kept reading recipe after recipe and nothing was sounding good. I finally ran across this recipe and felt it sounded fairly good kind of comfort foody. I am glad now that I picked it. I guess when you feel sick and aren't enthused about a recipe it has no where to go but up right? Seriously, this was a greatt recipe and everyone else agrees as well so it is not just me.

The pan gravy in this recipe is extra yummy. I would probably cook the onions a bit before adding them to the meatloaf mix, or just grate them to get the flavor but no "chunks". I like onion, but biting into a piece of raw onion is not tasty to me. I also used grape tomatoes, like I always do when it calls for raw tomatoes to be added to anything, and I cut them in half and sauted them in a small pan for a bit so they could get a bit of carmelization going.

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Patties with Pan Gravy and Sour Cream Tomato Smashed Potatoes


2 pounds small red skinned potatoes, quartered
1 1/3 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk, plus a splash
1 egg
2 teaspoons McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning, or coarse salt and black pepper combined
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 rounded teaspoon tomato paste
1 medium onion, finely chopped (reserve one fourth)
8 slices bacon
2 tablespoons EVOO
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 rounded tablespoons sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (I used a carton of grape tomatoes cut in half)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 rounded teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh flat leave parsley leaves, chopped

Cover the potatoes in water in a medium sauce pan. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes for 10 minutes, or until fork tender.

Place the meat in a large mixing bowl and create a well in the center. Fill the well with the bread crumbs and dampen them with a splash of milk. Add the egg, grill seasoning, allspice, tomato paste, and three quarters of the onions to the bowl. Combine the mixture and for into 4 large oval patties (about 3/4 inch thick). Arrange 2 slices of bacon in an X on a cutting board, repeat with the other 6 slices of bacon so that you have a total of 4 X's. Place a meatloaf patty on the center of each X. Fold the bacon around each patty. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat with the EVOO. Transfer the bacon wrapped patties, bacon seam side down, to the hot skillet. Fry the meatloaf patties for 7 minutes on each side under a loose aluminum foil tent. The tent will reflect heat and allow steam to escape the pan.

Check on the potatoes. When they are tender, turn the heat off, drain the potatoes and return the to the hot pot and warm stove top to dry them out. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter, sour cream, and the 1/2 cup of milk and smash to desired consistency. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper, then fold in the chopped tomatoes. Cover the potatoes to keep warm until ready to serve.

Remove the meatloaf patties to a platter and return the pan to heat. reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the remaining onions to the skillet. Cook the onions for 2 minutes and sprinkle the pan with the flour. Cook the flour for 1 minute, then whisk in 1 cup of chicken stock. Bring the broth to a bubble. If the gravy is too thick, thin with additional stock. Stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and parsley and taste to see if the sauce needs salt and pepper.

Drizzle the bacon wrapped meatloaf patties with the gravy. Pile smashed potatoes alongside and make a well in the center for extra sour cream or gravy.

Serves 4

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Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots

The holidays are my favorite time of the year. I love Thanksgiving for the food and as a reminder that, if I haven't lately, to be thankful for the wonderful things in my life. All too often we pay more mind to the struggles and hardships we have experienced. This year for me has been a test of that and I can truly say I have come out the other side of my trials with renewed love for life and the things I hold dear.

Food Star Friday - The Ultimate Beef Stew

Wow, where did this week go? I can't believe it is Friday already. They say time goes by faster as you get older but it seems to me that if it starts going any faster I am going to need a 5 point harness and a helmet!! Anyway, aside from that (and the fact that Christmas is only 52 days away ACK!!) Friday means that it is another Food Star Friday here at Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen. Today's recipe is Tyler Florence's Ultimate Beef Stew.

By now you all know I have been pretty obsessed with making soups, stews, and chowders. I just can't help it. The temperature dropped so quickly here in Western Washington. We had about 6 wonderful weeks of summertime with temps in the 80's a lot of the time. Then it was like someone just flipped a switch and the temps dropped into the 50's and now 40's! To me, when it is that cold outside, there is nothing better than a nice warm bowl of soup that warms you to your toes. So when I was deciding what to make for Food Star Friday I knew it was going to have to be something soupy or stewy.

Tyler is one of my favorite Food Network Stars. He is the chef guest for the FoodBuzz Festival in San Francisco today thru the 6th. I wanted to go sooooo bad. But I am working toward going to the BlogHer Food Blog '12 Conference in Seattle June 6th through the 8th, so no go for this girl. I knew this would be the perfect time for me to make this stew, it is one of my favorites.

This is the recipe I modified for my Pork Stew so if you haven't yet, check that one out too. It is guaranteed to fill you up and keep you warm!

Season your beef cubes with a good amount of salt and pepper

Toss the little beauties into some flour, making sure to shake off the excess before you pop them into the pot.

Get them nice and browned all over yummmmm I want some!

Next is my favorite part (apart from eating it) add a whole bottle, yes you heard me a WHOLE bottle of your favorite dry red wine. I used a Cabernet.

Once your little beef beauties have sucked up some of that wine, add your herbs and all the other yumminess.

Then in goes the beef stock and all those glorious mushrooms.

The result? Some of the best darn beef stew around!!

I apologize for the poor picture quality. Cooking with one hand and taking pictures with the other just doesn't work very well. But hopefully you can still see how wonderful this stew is.

The Ultimate Beef Stew

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying, plus more to drizzle
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch pieces (this cut is also called chuck shoulder pot roast and chuck roast boneless)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle good quality dry red wine 
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 orange, zest removed in 3 (1-inch) strips
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 9 small new potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in 1/2
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups frozen pearl onions, a large handful
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, cut in 1/2 (I sliced them)
  • 1/2 pound garden peas frozen or fresh
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • Crusty bread to sop up the broth
Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the oil and butter.
While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Season the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.
Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all those tasty bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, smashed garlic, orange zest strip, ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste,bay leaves and beef stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.
After 2 hours add halved potatoes, sliced carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms, along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Add the frozen peas during the last minute of cooking. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.
To serve, place in bowls with the crusty bread.

Serves 4 to 6

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Chicken Lasagna Roll Ups with Mushroom and Garlic Alfredo

I have been wandering through the bloggosphere trying to find new recipes to appease my family and distract them from the fact that they have been fed soup or stew at least 5 or 6 nights out of the last week and a half or so. I mean I figure if I can make 3 or 4 awesome meals for them they won't realize when I slip back into my addiction right? Well it sounds good on paper at least.

I ran across a blog called I The Cook. Have you read her blog? If not I will tell you it is a MUST read. She has some very tasty recipes and her presentations make me drool! She had a post called White Chicken Lasagna Roll Ups and after wiping my chin I decided that I wanted to make them. Of course I had to put my own spin on them (I swear I can never NOT tinker with a recipe) but you have to check out her original version as well.

I have made lasagna roll ups in the past but I was really excited about trying this new twist. Especially since I had just been working on a Mushroom and Garlic Alfredo sauce. I immediately knew this would  be the perfect marriage. So imagine how happy this this little cook was when the meal was met with an enthusiasm I could not believe.

My family is always supportive of what I do. They give me their opinions, good or  bad, because they know how important it is to me to make sure the things I create are the kind of recipes that everyone will love. I am lucky that, for the most part, they love what I do. This was one of those meals though that if you left your hand near the food too long you might have pulled it back minus a finger or two! So words were not necessarily. But once they stopped eating and took a moment to breath, the reaction was this was one of the best recipes yet.

The only thing I would have changed was the amount of sauce. I didn't feel it was quite enough so I doubled the recipe. If you are not a "saucy" kind of person go ahead and just do half. I just love this sauce so  much it has gone on to my list of things I want to can. I now have Chili Verde, Marinara Sauce, and Mushroom Garlic Alfredo on that list.

Chicken Lasagna Roll Ups with Mushroom and Garlic Alfredo

For the lasagna:
1 pound chicken breast
2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
2 cups part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parley leaves, chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 lasagna noodles, cooked slightly al dente

For the sauce:
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 cremini mushrooms, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups heavy cream
Pepper to taste
Fresh ground nutmeg, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Salt and pepper the chicken and drizzle with olive oil. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Shred chicken with two forks. Raise the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large pot of salted water boil the lasagna noodles to al dente. Drain and reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium- high heat. Add the chopped mushrooms and saute them about 5 minutes, your nose will tell you when they are getting there and they will get nice and brown. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the butter and once it melts add the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and nutmeg. Stir to combine and pepper to taste. Simmer until thickened. Remove from heat.

In small greased casserole pan, spoon enough of the Alfredo sauce to cover the bottom.

In a large bowl combine the shredded chicken, ricotta cheese, parsley, eggs, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Combine well. Lay out the lasagna noodles and place about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture on the noodle. Carefully roll the noodle and place seam side down in the casserole dish. Continue with the remaining noodles. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle the top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. 

Serves 4 

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Rachael Ray Wednesday - Chicken with Wild Mushrooms and Balsamic Cream Sauce

Let me start this off with I knew Jessi's wouldn't even think about eating this one, I hoped, but knew it was a pipe dream. This girl can NOT stand mushrooms. Something that I don't understand since pretty much everyone else in our family likes them. Seth isn't jump up and down in love with them, but he at least will eat them. Not Jessi, nuh uh, no way are you getting a mushroom anywhere near this girls mouth! So, as soon as she saw that there were 36 mushrooms in this recipe, well she got a bowl of Ramen and was happy. 

Kevin and I on the other hand were having a very hard time leaving the mushrooms in the pan until the end of the meal! I just love sauteed mushrooms, as does Kevin. We kept standing over the pot impatiently waiting for them to cook, and balsamic cream sauce? Oh My Gosh!!! Heavenly!! I could have made a meal of just the mushroom and sauce over the orzo pasta. Kevin was just smelling the balsamic out of the bottle and said it smelled so good he wanted to take a drink! There is nothing like a nice aged balsamic, so yummy.

On the chicken side of things, I suggest using chicken cutlets or boneless skinless chicken thighs, depending on your preference for light or dark meat. The issue with the whole breast half, is the typical one, they dry out. I am not a big fan of white meat chicken unless it is in a cutlet or chopped up in something for that very reason. But this is not because of my prejudice, the chicken did come out dry even though I cooked it exactly as the recipe called for.

So this is a pretty easy recipe. The hardest part is slicing all of those mushrooms on one cutting board! Kevin had done all the other prep work so there was garlic, shallots, and thyme on one corner of the board and I took over the rest with all of my mushrooms!

I think this one is a keeper just for the sauce alone. I will definitely make it with thighs next time though.

Chicken with Wild Mushrooms and Balsamic Cream Sauce


Coarse salt
1/2 pound orzo pasta
2 tablespoons EVOO
4 6 ounce boneless,skinless chicken breast halves
Coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 cremini mushrooms, sliced
12 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
12 white mushrooms, sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons heavy cream or half and half
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Heat a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the orzo. Cook until al dente.

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add the EVOO. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper and add to the hot skillet. Cook the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm.

Return the skillet to the heat, reduce the heat a bit, and add the butter. Once the butter melts, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Once the mushrooms are brown, season with salt and pepper, then add the garlic, shallots, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until the shallots are wilted. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook for 2 more minutes. Whisk in the stock, balsamic vinegar, and cream. Turn the heat up to high and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until thickened. Slice the chicken on an angle. Add the chicken back to the skillet to heat up with the parsley, about 1 minute,

To serve, pile the orzo on a dinner plate and top with the sliced chicken and the sauce.

serves 4

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