Wednesday, October 10, 2012

White Wine Mushroom Sauce with steak

Valentine's day? Really, that was my last post? Well, despite the lack of posting I have been feeding my family and have a few new recipes to share with you all!
I feel like fall has finally come to Southern California (at least for this week), and with the cooler temperatures I am completely ready to stop grilling and start making some cold weather comfort foods. A few nights ago we had pan-seared steaks and i really wanted some kind of sauce to dress them up. I had a bunch of mushrooms on hand, but all the recipes I found for mushroom sauce called for Red wine. Being almost 9 month pregnant I'm not exactly keeping a lot of wine on hand these days, but I did have a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that I had used for another recipe so i decided to just substitute that in for the red wine. The results? We loved it! It had a rich, slightly tangy flavor and paired perfectly with the steaks and was also a great addition to the smashed potatoes we had.

White Wine Mushroom Sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces white mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced thin (about 3 cups)
1 small shallot (I actually just used a white onion)
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leave
Salt and pepper

1. After pan searing your steaks, pour off the fat from the skillet. Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until it starts smoking.
2. Add the mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown and the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. (about 5 minutes)
3. Add the shallot or onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft.
4. Increase the heat to high and add the broth and wine. Mix in, scraping the bottom of skillet to loosen any browned bit. Simmer rapidly until the liquid and mushrooms reduce to 1 cup. (about 6 minutes).
5. Add the vinegar and mustard and cook until thickened, about 1 minute.
6. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately over steaks.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Heart Valentine Cookies

 These sweet little cookies have been a part of my Valentine's Day baking repertoire since, oh, probably Junior high. Whenever I make them I think of time spent giggling in the kitchen with girlfriends- friends that I am blessed to still call friends today! I haven't made them the last few years- between work and a husband who prefers his cookies with a little a lot of chocolate (have I mentioned that he's the chocolate eater, not me!), I just didn't make time for it. But now with two little one's who's bellies need to be spoiled on Valentine's Day, I just had to make them again.

I should also mention that this cookie recipe, minus the pink frosting, is my go to shaped/ cut-out cookie recipe- even over a traditional sugar cookie. It's just that good (and really what cookie with a whole CUP of butter wouldn't be good!).


1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour

1. Mix first six ingredients with electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually stir in flour by hand until well mixed.
2. Chill for 2 to 3 hours in refrigerator, or in freezer for half an hour.
3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll out half the dough at a time, leaving remainder in fridge to keep cook. Roll to about a 1/4 inch thick and then cut out with cookie cutters and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 6-10 minutes, until edges of cookie are a light brown.

Enjoy! (our little one's sure did!)

Monday, February 13, 2012


For probably the last year I have been wanting to make pretzels. Soft, warm pretzels- the kind no mall pretzel stand can recreate. I finally sat down and found a recipe for them, and in the last five days I've made them twice! (In my defense, the first batch we brought to a Super Bowl party, so we did not single handedly eat two batches on our own- although I wouldn't put it past us!)
Like any bread recipe, these are a little fussy (multiple steps, rising time, etc.) but so worth it! The recipe is a Martha Stewart recipe, but I made a few changes based on some other recipes that I looked at and followed the directions given at Smitten Kitchen (oddly enough the directions on the Martha Stewart site were very confusing).
Just be warned that these are slightly addicting and may just ruin your run of the mill mall pretzel!

2 cups warm water (100- 110 F)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 packet) yeast
5-6 cups flour plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg
course salt (sea, kosher, or pretzel)

* I mixed these by hand, however you could also use a mixer with a dough hook attachment
1. Mix warm water and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top of the water and allow to sit for 10 minutes. The yeast will become foamy.

2. Add one cup of flour, mixing until combined. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 4 cups of flour and mix until combined and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add 1/2 cup more of flour and knead until combined. If the dough is still sticky you can add another 1/2 cup of flour, again kneading until combined. After all of the flour has been combined, knead about 10 times or until smooth.

3. Coat a large mixing bowl with oil or with cooking spray. Place dough in greased bowl, turning dough so that it is coated. Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour or until dough has doubled in size.

4. Preheat oven to 450 F. Spray to baking sheets with cooking spray. Once dough has finished rising punch it down to remove any bubbles. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice to remove any leftover air pockets. Divide dough into individual balls depending upon the size pretzel you want to make. I made mini pretzels using a small handful of dough for each pretzel, and was able to make about 30 pretzels this way. Feel free to make them bigger too!

5. As you are rolling out your pretzels keep the rest of your dough covered with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Roll each dough ball into a long "snake" and then twist into a pretzel by holding each end and then crossing and twisting them (for a more detailed or visual explanation of this you can check out the Martha Stewart recipe on her website or just try doing a web search). Place each shaped pretzel onto the baking sheet and then cover with a dish towel.

6. Once all of your pretzels are formed allow them to rest for about 15 minutes or until the dough has risen slightly. Meanwhile, fill a large shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and then add the baking soda and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Reduce to a simmer before adding 3-4 pretzels to the water. Poach pretzels for 1 minute on each side and then return to baking sheet with a slotted spoon.

7. After all of the pretzels have been poached, beat egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush each pretzel with the egg glaze and then sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on rack or eat warm (my favorite way).  These are best when eaten the same day, but will last for about 2-3 days if kept out at room temperature. (Don't cover them up or they will get soggy!)

Happy Pretzel Eating! (Just writing this post has made me want to go make some more!)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spring Soup

I have very strict rules about what kinds of food I will cook at specific times of year. It's taken almost six years, but my husband has now caught on that I will probably never make him roast beef in July. Anyone else out there with me on this one? My husband still thinks I'm weird for this one (but then again, he also eats mashed potatoes and lasagna together- eew!).
Most of you would probably agree that soups are one of those meals that are best enjoyed during the winter on a cold day. Enter this unseasonably warm winter most of the country is experiencing and the fact that I live in Southern California, and finding perfect soup weather has been a challenge! This recipe for French Spring Soup however, is one that is perfect even in warmer weather. It has a nice light, yet flavorful broth and is filled with all sorts of vegetable goodness. On top of that even my one year old and three year old ate the "gegables" without complaint!
I've made this soup before using asparagus, but decided to use brussel sprouts instead this time, and I really loved the buttery flavor they added. Feel free to add or change the vegetables of your choice. One of the best things about soup is that you can use what you have on hand!

4 Tablespoons butter
1 pound of leeks, chopped
1 whole onion, chopped
1-2 stalks of lemon grass (optional)
1 clove of garlic, minced
8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
3 potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups brussel sprouts, halved
1 quart of water
1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pinch dill
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1/3 cup barley
1 cup chopped spinach or kale
1 cup half and half

1. In a large pot melt the butter. Add leeks, onion, and garlic and saute until tender.
2. Add the mushrooms and suate for two minutes.
3. Add the potatoes, carrots, and brussel sprouts and saute for two more minutes.
4. Add the water, broth, salt, pepper, dill, parsley, and barley. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Stir in the spinach or kale and add the half and half. Cook over low heat for about five more minutes.