Beef with Broccoli

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After many attempts to master the perfect beef with broccoli recipe for my dear husband, I have finally done it. The beef is so tender and the sauce is incredibly thick and delicious. He was totally impressed with this dish! (Beef with broccoli has been a long-time favorite of his and no recipe has ever come close to meeting his expectations, until now). This meal was a total hit! Even better than beef with broccoli in a restaurant!  *Update* Check out my latest take on Beef with Broccoli at my new site http://elizabethshome.com/szechuan-beef-with-broccoli/.


Make sure to slice the beef super thin, and marinate the meat for at least a few hours to ensure that it’s especially tender.  

Serves: 4
Time:  About 20 minutes, plus time for meat to marinate

First, marinate the meat:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs flank steak, sliced into very thin strips

Directions

  1. Whisk together the baking soda, sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, water, and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Toss the steak with the marinade to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 to 6 hours.
 Then continue with:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp sherry
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 heads broccoli, crowns only

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, flour and sherry until smooth, and set aside.

2.  In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over high heat until shimmering. Add broccoli and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Transfer broccoli to a plate.

3.  Carefully add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the hot pan. Add the marinated meat and half of the sauce mixture and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink. Stir in the broccoli and remaining sauce and cook for another minute. Serve immediately over white or brown rice.

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Shrimp Scampi and Rice Pilaf

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This is a delicious recipe for shrimp scampi! The sauce is rich, yet not over-powering, and the flavors are to die for. I always pair this with rice pilaf and my husband and I eat it sometimes for our “date night in”. I always try to get my ingredients prepped and ready ahead of time, because the cooking process is fairly quick with this dish, but the prepping takes a little more time. It is worth every bit of effort and leaves you feeling like you’ve just eaten at a very fancy restaurant. 

Slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Shrimp Scampi

Serves: 3 to 4
Time:  About 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined, and tails removed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon dry vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until shimmering. Swirl to coat pan. Add half the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque and just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a medium bowl. Repeat with the remaining oil and shrimp.
  2. Return the empty skillet to medium-low heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the pan. When the foaming subsides, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, add the lemon juice and vermouth. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, add the parsley and cayenne, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Return the shrimp and their juices to the skillet. Toss to combine and serve immediately, with the rice pilaf.

Rice Pilaf

Serves: 4
Time: About 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, minced
  1. Place the rice in a bowl and cover with water. Swish the rice around and then carefully holding onto it, pour off the water. Do this until the water runs almost clear. Drain the rice in a colander and set aside.
  2. Bring the 2 1/2 cups water to a boil, covered, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the salt and pepper; cover to keep hot. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until the foam begins to subside; add the onion and saute until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter; cook until the edges of the grains begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir the hot seasoned water into the rice, return to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until all the water is absorbed, 14 to 18 minutes. Off the heat, remove the lid, and place a clean kitchen towel folded in half over the pan and replace the lid  Let stand at least 10 minute, and then fluff the rice with a fork and serve with the shrimp.


White Chicken Enchiladas

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My husband found an idea for these a few weeks ago and had been asking me to make them. While red enchiladas are not my favorite thing to eat, I was very curious about white ones. So for Valentine’s Day this year I surprised him with these very very yummy white chicken enchiladas. They were delicious! I can’t wait to make them again. 

 Serves: 3 to 4
Time: About 50 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 10 soft taco shells (flour)
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chillies

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a small skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter, then add the onion and cook until softened but not browned, 3 or 4 minutes.
  3. Mix the chicken, 1 cup monterey Jack cheese, pepper Jack, onions, and salt and pepper. Place a scoop of filling in each tortilla, and roll up and place in pan.
  4. In a medium sauce pan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, and then whisk in flour and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the broth and whisk until smooth.  Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and chilies.  (Do not boil.)
  6. Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake for 22 minutes and then broil for 3 minutes to brown the cheese. Serve with salsa or picante sauce on the side.


Thai Chicken Curry Peanut


Please visit my new blog for my latest version of Thai Peanut Curry Chicken!  http://elizabethshome.com/thai-peanut-curry-chicken/

One of my husbands go-to dishes at our favorite Thai place is a chicken curry peanut dish. To surprise him one night, I thought it’d be very fun to see if I could come up with something as good as that one, or even better. And the verdict was, yes! He was so impressed by my new recipe that his craving for his favorite restaurant might now have to be met at home. Even our two-year-old loved this! 

 Serves: 4
Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans light coconut milk (not sweetened)
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste (more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 4 chicken breasts, sliced very thin
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 (8 ounce) can sliced bamboo shoots
  • 1 (15 ounce) can baby corn spears (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Slice chicken breasts very very thin. Put in bowl and toss generously with salt and pepper and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  2. In a medium sauce pan heat coconut milk, curry paste, peanut butter, sugar, and fish sauce until they come to a very small boil. Set aside and cool for a few minutes, then whisk in the cornstarch to thicken.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat oil until hot, then add the onion and garlic and cook until slightly softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken and stir-fry until it is cooked through.
  4. Then add the water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and baby corn to the chicken mixture. Add the sauce and stir, and heat for a few minutes until hot. Serve over rice and enjoy.


Mini Cheesecakes

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Ever since I’ve been pregnant this time, I have been absolutely craving cheesecake. When our two-year-old woke up from his nap today he was extra cranky, and so I pulled out graham crackers and we started to snack on them. Then I got a great idea to take his mind off of being crabby: we’d make mini cheesecakes together! He loved helping me crush the graham crackers and dumping in the ingredients. These were sooo good and very fun and easy to make. The perfect pregnant or anytime dessert!

 Makes: About 16
Time:  About 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
  • 1 (8 oz.) package reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Paper cupcake liners
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips (melted)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, 4 tablespoons sugar and melted butter, and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add both packages of cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs and vanilla, and beat until creamy.
  3. Put about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of the  paper cupcake tins, and press down. Then fill about 3/4 full with the cream cheese mixture.
  4. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, until set and no longer raw in the middle. (Slightly colored and cracking on top means they’re definitely done.)
  5. When cool, remove cup cake liners, and drizzle with melted chocolate.
*If you have left over graham cracker mixture, don’t worry. Simply enjoy it plain or add it over vanilla ice cream, or however you choose!


Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts

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20120219-105419.jpgWe first tasted this delicious recipe when we were living in Atlanta and invited over to our dear friends’ house just after William was born. We loved it so much I just had to get the recipe and make it another time. The original recipe is from Real Simple, but after making this dish more than a few times, I have finally modified it to perfection. Enjoy!

(We had never tasted white truffle oil until that night, but it is definitely a fun addition and gives this dish a whole different dimension. I found white truffle oil at the Farmers’ Market in Atlanta and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find it in Michigan, but luckily, I just asked the manager at my local Kroger and he found it immediately. It is a bit pricey (8.45 oz for about $14), but when you only use such a small amount, it is really worth it to make this dish pop!)

Makes: 3 to 4 servings
Time: About 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cheese ravioli, fresh or frozen (I use the frozen kind from Costco)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 crisp gala apples, room temperature, cut into matchsticks (skin on)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley (minced)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
  • White truffle oil to drizzle

Directions

  1. Cook the ravioli according to directions on the package.
  2. After the ravioli is cooked, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. *Do not burn or over toast. To be sure, keep a careful eye on them the whole time.
  3. Once the walnuts are properly toasted, add the apple, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the skillet, and turn off the heat. Toss to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  4. To serve, spoon sauce over ravioli and sprinkle with the Parmesan and drizzle with white truffle oil. Enjoy!

Almond Biscotti

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These are awesome!!! It seems that on all of our trips to Europe, we have always managed to find some ridiculously expensive but extremely delicious biscotti. What a thrill to create that European delight right in my own kitchen with my two year old! These were absolutely delicious and well loved in my family. They tasted just like the ones we had in Rome. They aren’t very hard to make, but unlike regular cookies, they do have a few more steps. For the end result, the few extra steps are definitely worth it! I can’t wait to make different additions and combinations for future biscotti recipes! So stay tuned… 

This recipe has been adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

Makes: About 3 dozen cookies
Time: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarse

Directions

  1. Adjust and oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Beat the sugar and butter together in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then both extracts, until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beater as needed.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds, and then mix in the almonds.
  4. Split the dough in half and use floured hands to quickly stretch and pat each portion of the dough into a 2 by 13-inch loaf, spaced about 3 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat each loaf smooth. Bake until the loaves are golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 20 to 35 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. * The recipe says to bake for 35 minutes, but mine were done after about 20. So just keep checking on them.
  5. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
  6. Transfer the loaves to a cutting board using a wide metal spatula. Slice each loaf on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices (or slightly thicker if you want them a bit thicker) using a serrated knife. Lay the slices about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake until the slices are crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes, flipping the slices over halfway through. Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving, about 30 minutes.

Mini Cheesy Rice Cups

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I created these little rice cupcakes yesterday since my two year old has been sick this past week and has been refusing to eat most things. He loves rice, and I wanted to make something fun for him, and sneak in a little protein. He seemed to love the look of them and enjoyed playing with them for a few minutes, and even ate a few bites before asking to go to bed. Compared to what he ate the night before, these were definitely a success in my mind. Not to mention the fact that my husband and I both loved these, too! We both devoured a few as an appetizer. With a creamy center, and slightly crunchy top, these mini cheesy rice cups were a hit for the whole family! 

Makes: 12 mini cups
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup crushed Ritz crackers
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add water, rice, butter, salt and onion to small sauce pan, and stir. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until rice is almost done.
  2. Remove from heat and add Parmesan, cheddar, and salt and pepper. Stir together to combine.
  3. Add about a tablespoon amount of the rice mixture into the bottom of a 12 count mini-muffin pan, coated with cooking spray, and gently press down. Then sprinkle the crushed crackers over the tops. Spray the tops of the crackers with cooking spray to give them a light coating.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 or until crackers are slightly golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes, then gently remove from pan and enjoy.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

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20111021-185648.jpgI had been wanting to try this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for a long time. I had read about it in their magazine, saw it in their cookbook, and even just recently watched the making of these on the America’s Test Kitchen TV show. I felt that with all my knowledge of this recipe I better give it a try. So on this rainy and cold Wednesday, William and I headed to the kitchen to make the “perfect chocolate chip cookies”.
The first thing I did with these was double them. I wanted to have more than just 16 since I was bringing dinner and dessert to a friend, and my dad tonight, and I still wanted to have a bunch leftover. Also, when browning the butter, watch it carefully and keep stirring it. I took my eyes off the first batch to go chase William, and before I knew it, it had burned. So for my second try with the butter, I kept a close watch and it was perfect. I didn’t use nuts because I just wanted them plain. I also watched them closely in the oven and learned that for my oven, 9 minutes was the perfect amount of time. These cookies should NOT be over baked! The verdict: THE MOST DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE I HAVE EVER TASTED!!!! These are absolutely amazing! The outer part of the cookie was crispy and tasted like toffee, while the inside was still soft and chewy. They were a hit with our friends, my parents, and my husband loved them, too. They are definitely my “perfect chocolate chip cookie” and my new favorite cookie! I will be making these often.  

Makes: 16 cookies     Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)*use fresh, moist brown sugar- can also substitute light brown sugar, but cookies with be less full flavored
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (good quality, such as Ghirardelli)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12- inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
  3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
  4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches)
  5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10- 14 minutes (I did 9 minutes), rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.
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Big Batch Spaghetti Sauce

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20111021-185702.jpgI have been making this spaghetti for years now and it’s always delicious. It’s inspired by my mom and her yummy spaghetti. This was the first time that I’ve made this HUGE of a batch, but I was cooking for a friend who just had a baby and I wanted to make sure that I had a lot to give her, and I wanted a bunch extra for us to eat and freeze. My mom and I don’t usually measure when we make this, so it’s a little different every time. But because I wanted to blog about it, I tried to pay careful attention to how much of everything I was adding while I was making it. So this recipe is really for a BIG BATCH. The next time I make it, I’ll try to write a recipe for a smaller one, but you really can’t go wrong with a huge pot of spaghetti. 

Serves: 20 to 30    Time: 50 minutes, plus 4 to 6 hours to simmer

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 onions, diced
  • 16 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 (102ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (105 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Kraft Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper (generous amount)
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

  1. In very large stock pot, heat oil until shimmering, then add onions and stir. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add meats and cook until browned and not raw, breaking up with wooden spoon. Then add tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, water, cheese, salt and pepper, crushed red pepper, bay leaves, parsley, oregano, basil, and sugar, and stir until well mixed.
  2. Bring to a low boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, simmering, for about 4 to 6 hours. Stir occasionally, and skim off extra fat as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with angel hair pasta, and a few shakes of Parmesan cheese on top.