Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Seared Steaks with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola

One day, a couple of years ago, I was surprised with an issue of Eating Well, addressed to me, in my mailbox. I never signed up for the subscription but by some happy accident I ended up with a two year subscription. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it, and sometimes go back and re-read the issues. Yes, I know, I have a bit of an addiction to anything food related. hey, at least it's not heroin :-) Anyways...........I happened upon this recipe for seared steaks and was instantly drawn in. As a former vegetarian, I do not always get super excited about red meat. I do, however, love a good steak once in a blue moon. I also love, love, LOVE Gorgonzola. Tim is not a fan of pungent cheese, but he went along with the operation due to the fact that it was on top of a big, fat, juicy, steak. This steak was delicious, yet simple. Elegantly served on a bed of caramelized onions, how can you go wrong? I served this with a very simple salad of spring greens, avocado slices, and heirloom tomatoes. Yum!

Seared Steaks with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola
*recipe from Eating Well December 2008. Pg 22

2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Large onions, sliced
1 Tablespoon brown sugar (I may have added more than that...Tim made me do it!)
1/2 Cup reduced sodium beef broth (I used chicken broth because that's what I had on hand...still wonderful!)
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound beef tenderloin (fillet mignon, or sirloin steak, about 1 inch thick),trimmed and cut into 4 steaks
1/4 Cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add brown sugar and onions and cook, stirring often, until brown and very tender. This should take 15 minutes. Add broth, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and continue to cook until liquid is almost evaporated, about 3-4 minutes. Keep warm.

season both sides of the steaks with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook until browned, 3-5 minutes. Turn them over and top with the cheese. Cook until cheese is melted and the steaks are the desired done-ness. This will be another 3-5 minutes for medium-rare. Serve the steaks with the caramelized onions.

Eating well is also kind enough to provide nutritional information for all of their recipes. Here is the info for this one:
338 calories, 16 G fat, 69 MG cholesterol, 11 G Carbohydrates, 36 G protein, 2 G Fiber, 468 MG sodium, 565 MG potassium.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cinnamon Toffee Apple Pie Squares

Wednesday is my favorite day of the week for the simple reason that on that day, I get to read the Good Eating section of the Tribune. I love the Good Eating Section. This recipe came from September 23rd's Good Eating. It is clear that the writers over there at the Trib are in full holiday mindset, and this recipe is a true Fall delight. I am hoping to make this again for Thanksgiving. Be prepared that this is no quick and easy recipe. It requires time, and a lot of peeled, cored, and sliced apples but it is so worth it. For someone who finds joy in the process of creating a beautiful and delicious dessert, this recipe is perfect. There is a thick crust on the bottom that wraps up the sides, a streusel top, and pounds of apples in the middle. This filling is simple, with just a bit of sugar and lemon added to highlight the flavor of the apples. The only thing that I changed was that I omitted the pecans in the streusel and used a cup of oatmeal instead. I am not a huge fan of the texture that pecans add to baked goods, but if you are a pecan lover go ahead and keep them, I am sure they add a delicious flavor. I know that if I am ever making these for my father-in-law, the pecans will be a must. For me though, the toffee added enough crunch while the oatmeal smoothed everything out. I also dusted the top with cinnamon to add some extra color.


3 Cups all purpouse Flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening, frozen and cut into small bits
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, very cold and cut into small bits
1/2 Cup Water
3 Large Egg Yolks (don't throw the whites away-you can freeze them in ice cube trays and thaw them when you need them)
1.5 teaspoons Lemon Juice

Cinnamon Toffee Streusel

1 Cup Pecan Halves
1 Cup All Purpouse Flour
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
pinch Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/3 Cup Unsalted Butter, very cold and cut into small bits
1/2 of an 8 oz package of Toffee Bits


4 Pounds Mixed Apples (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious) peeled, cored, sliced
1.5 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 C Granulated Sugar
3 Tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Grated Zest of 1/2 Lemon
1/4 teaspoon Salt

For the crust:
Put flour, baking powder and salt in to a food processor and process until well mixed
Sprinkle in shortening and cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles course crumbs.

Mix water, egg yolks and lemon juice in a small bowl. Sprinkle over flour mixture and process just until the dough gathers into a ball. Do not over-mix or the dough will become tough. Transfer to a large sheet of waxed paper and flatten into a large disc. Wrap and refigerate for about 30 minutes.

Roll the dough out to a rectangle that measures about 12 X 16 inches. Place the dough in a greased 9 X 13 pan and press it to make it even along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

For Streusel:
Put pecans in food processor and chop coursely. Transfer to a bowl. Add flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon to the food processor. Process to mix. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles course crumbs. Add to pecans Stir in toffee bits. Squeeze mixture into small clumps and set aside.

For Filling:

Put apples into a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice to coat. Stir in the sugar, tapioca, lemon rind and salt. Mix well.

Take your pan with crust out of the refrigerator and evenly spread apple mixture over the crust. Top with streusel to completely cover the apples. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until top and crust are brown, about 40 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack to cool, and serve when barely warm.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Butternut Squash? In Chili?

Tim was craving chili and cornbread last week. Some one told him they were having it for dinner, and he immediately wanted some for himself. That same night, I talked to my sister on the phone and she said that she had just made her favorite chili recipe. She didn't know where it came from but that it was scribbled on a piece of notebook paper with a recipe for meatloaf on the other side. Those are the best kinds of recipes. So, she e-mailed it to me, and I used her base recipe to create a colorful, veggie-packed chili that was hearty but not overly meat-filled. I am not a huge fan of ground beef, so I usually make turkey chili but this one had enough other flavors in it that the beef was more of a compliment than a focal point. It helped that I had a lot of vegetables in my fridge begging to be eaten, but from now on, I will purposely buy them when I am making chili. Feel free to sub-in any veggies that you have, chili can be an experiment, that way it won't get boring!

1 lb Ground Beef (I used just under a pound which worked well when I added in all the extras) cooked, drained
2 (15 Oz.) cans of chili beans
2 large Green Peppers, Chopped
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
4 Celery Ribs, Chopped
3-4 large cherry tomatoes or small roma tomatoes, diced
1 Red Pepper, Chopped
1 Small Butternut Squash, peeled, cubed, pre-cooked (directions in recipe)
1 (8 Oz) Can of Tomato Sauce
1 envelope Chili Seasoning
3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 (8 oz) package of Macaroni Noodles, cooked and drained
Cheddar Cheese, grated
Salt, Pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Start with your butternut squash because this is the most time consuming part of the whole process. Cut off the top and the bottom with a sharp knife. Use a sharp vegetable peeler to get all of the skin off. Cut up the squash into small cubes. Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil, or other cooking spray. lay squash in the cookie sheet in a single layer and season with salt. Cook in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes. Set aside.

While the squash is cooking, brown your meat and prepare all of your other veggies. Throw everything (squash last) except the macaroni, cheese, and salt and pepper into the crock pot. Add the squash last so that you can see how much you think you need. I probably added half of a pretty large squash. That was a perfect amount, but I just eye-balled it until it looked like it had a good ratio of ingredients. You can keep the rest of the squash in your fridge and use it with another meal because all the hard work is already done! Hurray!

Now that you have everything in the pot, turn it to low and let it cook for 6 hours. If you are using macaroni, stir it in after the cooking time is complete. I decided to leave the macaroni out just because there were already so many other things in this chili, I thought it may be too heavy. But, I do love chili mac, maybe I will try it next time. Season it with salt and pepper, and grate some sharp cheddar (or regular cheddar if you prefer) over the top of each bowl. Serve it by itself or with some good bread. Tim always needs to have cornbread with honey if he is having chili, but any hearty bread with some soft butter would do. Hope you enjoy it!