Sunday, September 30, 2012

French Onion Soup and French Dip Leftovers.

Maybe it's because I live in New Jersey, the land of diners. Or maybe its because...

What could be bad about caramelized onions, roast beef and yummy bread. Oh and Gruyere. Mmmmmm.

So if you are one of the billion people who are addicted to Pinterest like I am. You see French Dip sandwiches posted all the time. But when you actually read the recipes, its cream of this, packaged onions, blah blah blah. This lead me to the idea of the double dip weekend dinner (get it, double dip, french dip..har har har )

Basically after reading about 10 different recipes for a French dip I came to a few conclusions. Its basically beef cooked long and slow in french onion soup plus a few other ingredients and every single recipe is too darn lazy to make french onion soup so they tell you to use either packaged onion soup mix, which isn't the WORST thing. Or concentrated french onion soup from a can. YUCK.

Well... I made the darn soup and it wasn't that complicated.

I used my favorite source for recipes, The Pioneer Woman. The recipe for her soup is Here.

I do have a few err...corrections of things I'd change for next time. But the recipe is great and I am sure for most people its 100% perfect the way it is. For me and my wild taste buds, it could be doctored up a bit.

Feel free to follow my suggestions or to use her recipe exactly, either way it'll be a great soup.

Things I would change:
Use half the stick of butter.
Cook in the oven, completely covered AND for less time. I'd say 25-30 minutes tops
Use STOCK instead of BROTH. The difference between the two is that stock is completely unseasoned and takes the flavor of what you use it with. you can salt and pepper it yourself, to your own liking.

This made a really lovely dinner for hubby and I. It is a rich and delicious soup and the crusty bread and Gruyere cheese make it really filling, even for a meat lover such as my DH.

Even though its called french onion soup. French Gruyere isn't actually necessary, and in most cheese shops it is called "Comte"not "French Gruyere". The cheese man at Fairway thought I was an imbecile.

Swiss Gruyere is the best to use because of its melting qualities and less "stinky cheese-ness" yes I made that saying up.

On to the French Dip.

After two very large bowls of soup the night before. I filled the remaining soup into my crock pot and added 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes  and 1.5 lbs of "Bottom Round". After 5 hours of cooking on low. I sliced the meat very very thin and put it back for another 3 hours.

The beef was so moist, tender and delicious I almost ate it without the bread or the dipping!

Fairway makes some unbelievable french baguette and it was still warm when I bought it. YUM

No one will hold it against you if you add on the left over gruyere, I did :)

Side Notes:

While I have your attention I wanted to mention a few things.. First off. I am wondering if my followers? (assuming I have some) Prefer a step by step picture tutorial. Truth be told, I skip all of that mumbo jumbo and head straight for the recipe. But I would like to make you happy so let me know.

Secondly, If you have a blog that is at all related to having kids, food, desserts, parties, etc. Lets team up. I am always open to new affiliates.

Lastly, I need some web maintaince help, if you know HTML and can fancy up my blog and make me a button, I will gladly trade services with anything from my ETSY STORE.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Poor Baby, Broccoli & Cheese Soup

The House of J's had a nice relaxing holiday week. We had some fun outings and all was well until...All of a sudden my little Julia wakes up with a cold. Poor baby :(

So far, Jacob has a little bitty temperature spike but it's no surprise because his everyday temperature is about 98.9. What a little hottie.

A Saturday at home, just trying my hardest to make both kids as cozy and comfortable as possible. I decided to make Julia one of her favorite things...SOUP!

She hadn't been eating much the past few days which makes sense now, so I wanted to make her a jam packed soup full of nutrition.

I started out with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 sweet onion. In a large pot on medium heat until the onions were soft. To this I added 1 tablespoon butter and 2 medium carrots, chopped.

I left the veggies on medium heat until the carrots were starting to get soft and the butter was fully melted, then I added 1/8 cup flour and stirred until smooth.

To this I added 1/2 cup of milk and 3/4 cup chicken stock. The milk can be substituted for half and half if you prefer.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I used frozen broccoli because it's what I had on hand, but fresh broccoli would be far superior if available. If you decide to go frozen, be sure its completely thawed and you squeeze the moisture out with a paper towel and a strainer.

Next up, throw in your broccoli, about 2.5 cups(can be more or less depending on how "broccoli-ish you like it)  and 4oz of cheese. I used a mix of grated monterey jack and cheddar. Add in 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.

Bring all the ingredients to a boil and then let simmer for another 30 minutes..

Serve with crackers and kisses :)

*side note* this was perfect for Julia and I and it filled up a small round Tupperware for lunch tomorrow. If serving a larger crowd feel free to double the recipe :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Sweet Cream Caramel Glaze

Picture this:

Julia in the shopping cart @ Fairway Market, fresh out of ballet class with a leotard, shoes and a PIRATE HAT.  Mommy & Grandma picking out some veggies.

Nice Old Lady: "How cute she's playing dress up!"
Grandma S: "No! Didn't you know...It's Talk like a Pirate Day!"

Isn't it funny how having little ones can make you totally comfortable with being a complete and utter goofball?

Of course, this also means fun play group activities and baked goodies! I decided to make a pumpkin something, because pumpkin is pretty healthy and sweet without requiring a ton of sugar. Which is great for toddler snackin'.

The caramel as a topping was an after thought as I felt that these little muffins just needed a littttle something sweet.

3 dozen cupcakes, iced, decorated and adorned with pirate garb. THEY ALL CRASH TO THE FLOOR. Of course I didn't get a picture before the accident. Just invision pirate flags and crossbones.

Yep, you read that correctly. 3 dozen mini muffins on floor + big mess + no muffins = one irritated momma.

Damn Ye Pirates!!

Well, crafty momma's do prevail. I made them all over again in the morning. Yes we were a little late, but they were enjoyed by all, especially Julia. Which is what really matters anyway.

So without further adieu:
Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Sweet Cream Caramel Glaze

First off.. These are made with whole wheat flour but can be subbed with white flour 1:1

3 cups whole wheat unbleached flour.
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

combine all ingredients and set off to the side.

In the mixer goes:
12 tablespoons cold butter cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
3/4 cup dark brown cane sugar

blend until the butter and sugar is blended nicely, the butter should not be smooshy, having a slightly hard butter will make for a richer tasting muffin.

add in:
1.5 cups pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling, please use actual canned pumpkin)
and 2 large eggs.

once blended, add in your dry ingredients very slowly while continuing to churn the batter with your mixer on its lowest setting.

Once incorporated, add in 1/3 cup buttermilk

If you are using miniature muffin cups, this makes about 5 dozen if you are using regular size it should make 16 muffins depending on how much you fill your liners. I fill about 2/3 up.

bake at 350 for 15 minutes for small and 30 minutes for large.

While your muffins are baking you can start on the glaze. 

1/2 cup pure cane sugar, melted completely
1/4 cup whole cream
vanilla to taste
Pumpkin Pie spice

combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and continuously stir until all melted and incorporated. If you have a candy thermometer great, the correct temperature is about 212* But it takes about 15 minutes on the lowest setting of your burner. You will know when its perfect, its amber in color and very smooth.

Just before you turn off the heat, throw in a pinch of your pumpkin pie spice to blend in all the flavors.

When the muffins are cooled, but while the glaze is still warm, lightly dip the top into the glaze and let rest.  It will not completely "harden" but it will be hard enough to transport or to set up on a cake stand, etc. As long as you don't drop them of course.


PS: I'm fully aware pirates didn't wear jean jackets, but it was pretty windy. HA!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Smokin' Hot Chuck Chili

It's been a roller coaster around here lately. The munchkins are growing so fast.

 I love the fall but I am still a bit sad to see the summer go so I've been trying to make the most of these last few bits of sunny, no jacket required weather.

This past Saturday we checked out the Brooklyn Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. While the different food stands are great the mass of people and the chaos isn't the best possible place to bring a toddler and an infant. Whoops. 

Maybe next season you'll get to see a House of J tent there... You never know :P


I might have jumped head first into the fall fare but I was dying to make a chili, so I did. 
This isn't for the faint of heart. It's SPICY and delicious.

I started with cubed Chuck roast cut up into little penny size bites(almost 1 lb.) 1 onion and 2 jalapenos, seeded. The more seeds that get in there the hotter it will be.

With enough canola oil to coat a heavy bottom pot, throw them all in on medium high heat until the steak is browned and the veggies are soft. 

Add in 1 can of Ro-tel, Diced tomatoes and green chilies. I used original flavor however there are spicier versions of this but this recipe is spicy enough IMHO.

Cook for about 2 minutes until well blended.

Add in 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, chili powder, cayenne, paprika and cumin and 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes and cook until boiling.

Now its time for the beans, I prefer a combination of pinto and black beans but kidney beans are also a great choice. I recommend draining and rinsing before adding, to avoid that can taste.

Cover and let simmer on medium-low heat for at least 1.5 hours but you can leave this to cook even longer, 3 hours is a great cook time, the longer it cooks the softer the meat and the more blended the flavors. 

For an added kick, add in 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke half way through cooking and be sure to stir frequently.

We also shared a really delicious beer tonight, Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale. It was outrageously smooth and a perfect chili accompaniment. And as the name suggests, summer is truly gone and done, so make a chili and spend the last few days in the park! I know we will.