New Year, New Goals

Each year I take a look at what I’ve cooked/baked and what I’m hoping to learn in the future. This year I was unpleasantly surprised to find that I barely made any of my 2018 goals.

  1. Pulled Pork
  2. Roast Chicken
  3. Sourdough
  4. Quesadillas
  5. Scones
  6. Trifle
  7. Madelines
  8. Quiche
  9. Cocktail
  10. Salad with Homemade Dressed
  11. Cinnamon Rolls
  12. Steak and Mashed Potatoes
  13. Frittata
  14. A Homemade Condiment
  15. French Press Coffee

Out of these fifteen goals, I made roast chicken, quesadillas, scones, and mashed potatoes. I’ve never met every single goal in a year, but I’m usually more dedicated to my goals.

This year I’ll be trying something a little different. Keep following and I’ll be less mysterious! Updates to come soon!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake

The pumpkin craze continues! I saw this design in a magazine and thought to myself, “I could make that!” A pumpkin chocolate chip cake seemed perfect for a pumpkin-shaped cake. This monster cake is a perfect centerpiece for a big Halloween party. Since it’s technically two cakes, make sure there are enough people to eat it!

Ingredients:

CAKE

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghiradellhi’s bittersweet)

FROSTING

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups maple extract
  • 1 tsp maple extract
  • 1-2 Tbsp water or milk (I used milk)

Instructions:

I made 2 of these bundt cakes, prepared and baked separately. The instructions below are only for one cake.

1) Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 10 in. bundt pan.

2) Combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a bowl. Whisk until combined.

3) Combine oil and sugar in another bowl and mix well.

4) Add the eggs, one at a time, into the sugar-oil mix.

5) Add the dry ingredients alternatively with the pumpkin, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

6) Fold in the chocolate chips.

7) Bake 60-65 min. or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs.

I use a lighter colored pan, so 55 minutes did the trick.

8) Remove from the oven. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely,

9) Make the icing. Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.

10) Add the powdered sugar and maple extract. Mix.

11) Add 1-2 Tbsp of water or milk.

This is to get the right consistency. I felt I had the right consistency without any additional liquid, but the milk really helped cut down on the sweetness of the maple frosting.

12) Decorate once the cake is completely cool.

This keeps the frosting from melting off of the cake.

Now to make your pumpkin masterpiece! I froze the two cake that I made, because who has the time to bake 2 cakes, level and carve them, make and dye frosting, then decorate a cake all in one day?

1) Level the bottoms of both cakes.

My cake was still moist even after freezing, so take it slow so you don’t take chunks out of your cake by accident. PS this is a great step for tasting.

2) Place one bundt cake upside down. Place the other on top of the first bundt cake. Use a knife to carve into a smooth shape.

3. Dye your frosting orange (or use pre-made orange frosting). Frost between the two cakes, then cover the rest of the cake.

I really wish that I had made more frosting, or done a light crumb cake layer. There were some patches later on where you could see the dark cake below the icing.

4. Take an ice cream cone and place it in the center hole. Frost this with green icing. Pipe green frosting vines and leaves. Enjoy!!

Final Thoughts: Usually I don’t like to bake cakes that use oil as their source of moisture, but it worked out because of how often I was freezing the cakes while decorating. I didn’t think I would like the maple flavor paired with pumpkin, but it was a nice subtle addition to the flavors. Next time I might cut down on the sugar as it was quite sweet in comparison. I’ve heard milk powder can help thicken frosting without adding sugar.

Pumpkin Beer Bread

As a lover of everything pumpkin (which you may have guessed from the pumpkin recipes I continue to make) I bought a case of Leinenkugel’s Pumpkin Ale. Though I enjoyed it, I don’t drink beer very frequently. I found a way to use at least one of the bottles left over.

I had never baked bread when I first made this. All I knew about bread was that they require yeast and some proofing time, or things like “starters.” Fortunately, this is not that kind of bread!

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. pumpkin beer (one bottle)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, melted and divided
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice

Instructions

1) Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9×5 in. loaf pan.

I usually spray the pan with Pam then use a paper towel to make sure everything is coated and wipe out the excess.

2) Pour the pumpkin beer into a sauce pan and whisk vigorously for 1-2 min. (without heat) for flatten the beer.

3) Heat over medium until boiling, whisking occasionally to help keep the foaming down. Reduce by half (for about 15 min.) and set aside to cool slightly.

Don’t let it cool too much! You’ll want the pumpkin to dissolve.

4) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

5) In a smaller bowl (or the pan you used to flatten the beer), whisk together the beer, 2 Tbsp melted butter, canned pumpkin, molasses, and ground spices.

6) Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix with a spoon until no dry ingredients are left.

Don’t use a whisk like I did! This is not a batter, it’s a dough. It will get stuck to everything.

7) Pour half of the remaining melted butter into the loaf pan.

8) Put the dough into the pan and drizzle the remaining melted butter over the top.

9) Bake 45-55 min. until a knife can be inserted into the center and come out clean.

Final Thoughts: Isn’t it beautiful? I love the amber color. It was a nice mild flavor with hints of beer, spice, and pumpkin, but none overpoweringly so. If you really want a tasty snack, slather it with apple butter!

Korean Beef Meal Prep

In my junior year of college, my best friend announced she was moving to South Korea. She didn’t speak the language and knew a little about the culture, but it was still quite sudden. When she came back, she could fluently speak Korean. She also came back with an extensive knowledge of Korean food. She started taking me with her to local places, ordering food that I hadn’t heard of in a language I can’t understand. Needless to say she helped develop a love of Korean food.

Every week I make a recipe to bring to lunch for work. When I found that one of my favorite bloggers had a recipe for Korean beef, I knew I had to try it. It’s a mock-bulgogi that has quickly become one of my favorite recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chopped spinach (I bought 2 bunches, but 3 might have been better.)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha (I actually used gochujang- a Korean fermented chili paste.)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef (I always use venison of course)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp sesame seeds

You’ll need more spinach than you think.

Instructions:

1. In a large saucepan, cook rice according to the package. Set aside.

2. Boil the eggs to desired consistency. I prefer medium-hard boiled eggs.

3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the spinach until wilted.

 

 

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and Sriracha (or gochujang).

This sauce is super sticky. It will congeal if you don’t stir it every now and then.

5. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Make sure it crumbles, then drain the fat.

 

Basically up until you add the meat, the steps are the same as how you prepare the spinach.

6. Stir in the soy sauce mixture and green onions, allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.

I stirred the sauce prior to adding it into the meat.

7. Place the rice, eggs, spinach, and ground beef mixture into meal prep containers. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds if desired.

I left the garnish off of the food, but added a little extra gochujang to the meat. It was the perfect meal.

Final Thoughts: My dad said this was his favorite lunch I’ve ever made. I was disappointed that I didn’t make enough spinach, but since I doubled the recipe, we had plenty of food. I could eat this every week for lunch. Slightly sweet and slightly spicy, all delicious.

Hearty Beef or Venison Stew

Fall is around the corner, which gives me an excuse to start fall recipes. Stews and soups are one of my favorite types of dishes, because they’re simple to make. There’s also an incredible variety of flavors for the same basic idea. Throw a bunch of food and spices into a pot and you’ve made something tasty! I tend to eat lots of gnocchi so this beef stew recipe looked to good to pass up!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 lbs. chuck roast, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 quart warm water
  • 3/5 cup frozen peas
  • 1 package gnocchi
  • 2 carrots

Instructions:

1. Season beef with salt and pepper. Coat with the olive oil. Brown the meat in a pan over medium heat. Transfer the meat to a bowl.

 

 

2. Add 2 Tbsp butter and some olive oil to the pot. Saute the onions for about 5 minutes, until they’re translucent. Add the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for about a minute.

3. Stir in the flour and paprika. Cook about 1 minute. Be careful not to let the flour burn!

4. Pour the water into the pan. Bring the water to a simmer. (This is called deglazing the pan.)

5. Add the beef cubes, bay leaf, cloves, and thyme. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer 2.5 hours.

6. Add the potatoes and carrots. Turn the heat up to medium low. Simmer partially covered for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through. Add the gnocchi 5 minutes before the end of the cook-time, then remove the pot from the heat.

You can test the potatoes by pushing a fork through them. If they’re relatively soft and easy to puncture, they’re ready.

7. Add the peas and stir. Cover the pot with a lid and let sit for a few minutes.

8. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Final Thoughts: This was such a hearty and delicious stew. I looked forward to eating leftovers every day. This recipe may be more suited for wintertime, but I truly enjoyed the mix of textures and the strong flavors. The cloves in particular were a nice surprise! Give it a try and comment with your results!

Venison Pohya

When I was living with my father, the majority of the meat in our fridge was wild game, hunted by my father, brother, or brother-in-law. As an avid hunter, my father subscribes to multiple hunting magazines, including one called Field & Stream. Sometimes they publish recipes. Recently we found a traditional Native American recipe called “poyha,” a venison and corn dish.

You’ll need a cast iron pan and a food processor or blender for this recipe, so it should be considered an intermediate or advanced recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. venison
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 scallions, chopped with white parts separated from the green
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ears corn or 2 cups frozen corn (you should only need to buy one bag)
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 2 eggs
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

Instructions:

1)  Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet over med-high heat. Add venison and cook. Stir to break up until the pink is mostly gone.

2) Add the white parts from the scallions, red onion, and garlic. Cook until fragrant and the onions are softened. Transfer the mix to a large bowl.

 

3) Add 1/3 of corn to bowl with venison.

4) Combine the remaining corn with the cranberries. Pulse in a food processor until roughly chopped but not pulverized. Transfer this to the bowl of venison, including any juice.

 

 

5) Add the eggs, green scallion, salt, and pepper. Stir. Add cornmeal and blend.

Try not to work the meat too much.

6) Wipe out the skillet. Add 1 Tbsp oil to coat the sides and the bottom. Scoop the venison mix into the skillet. Flatten with a spatula. Cover tightly with foil.

7) Bake for 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes or more.

Please don’t burn yourselves on the pan. Cast iron will retain heat as much as possible.

Final Thoughts: This was an absolutely amazing recipe! My father and I were stunned by the savory flavor with just a slight tangy sweetness from the cranberries. We both ate seconds; leftovers were gone by the next day. Well done Field & Stream. I may look for more recipes from them to try.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Venison Roast with Mushrooms

Have you ever watched a movie or a TV show where the family sits down for dinner, so they can feast on a beautifully cooked roast? I was always a little envious of the giant home-cooked meal. My family saved those kind of meals for holidays like Easter and Christmas. Sundays were usually what my mother called “scrounge night,” which meant we plundered the leftovers from the week or enjoyed a bowl of cereal. My father made simple meals of spaghetti and steam broccoli. I wanted to have a classy home-cooked meal like the Sunday roast.

I found this recipe for a roast. I used venison, but this recipe was originally designed for beef. Don’t be daunted by the thought of cooking a giant hunk of meat. It’s actually simple and amazingly delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4-5 lbs.) whole beef tenderloin
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 16 oz. cremini mushroom, halved
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter

For the Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • kosher salt and pepper

Instructions:

1)  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2) Rub the beef with the mustard, and season with salt and pepper.

3) Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.

I cut the mushrooms incorrectly! This is why you review your recipe. Cutting them this small made them shrink. There was definitely a smaller ratio of mushrooms to meat, which was unfortunate since the mushrooms were so delicious.

4) Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and into a cast iron skillet.  Place the roast over top of the mushrooms. Add butter to the top of the beef.

5) Transfer to the oven and roast for about 35-45 min. The roast is finished when the internal temperature reaches 120-125 degrees.

 

6) Remove the beef and mushrooms from the skillet to a serving plate. Cover with foil and let rest about 10 minutes.

Resting is super important! If you cut into the meat right after it’s been cooked, you’ll lose all of the juices that keep the roast moist.

7) Place the same skillet over high heat on the stove. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pain. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add butter and thyme, then continue cooking for about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

See how much thicker?

8. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Removing the skillet from the heat when adding cheese keeps the sauce from breaking.

Final Thoughts: I was shocked at how simple this was. The idea of a roast always seemed like a time-consuming, daunting task. It’s a beautiful looking dish. Also, smother that amazing sauce over everything. I need to get my hands on another roast. Just typing this made me want to make it again.