Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Green Lunch


If you are one of my kids, you've come to expect a green lunch on St. Patrick's Day!  My youngest tends to remind me a few days in advance. "Do we get a green lunch again this year?" My oldest, a super-cool 17-year old, grabs the inevitable bag and shoves it in his backpack. Despite his apparent ambivalence, I bet that when he's a dad, his kids will get a green lunch, too! #StillFunny, #ILoveMyJob!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Apple and Mustard Braised Corned Beef


I only cook Corned Beef once a year, but every time I do, I'm reminded of how really quite delicious it is! Truth be told, I love everything about the traditional St. Patrick's Day meal - the roasted carrots, the braised cabbage, the tender and flavorful corned beef - it is truly comfort on a plate. This year's corned beef turned out especially flavorful when it was slathered with grainy mustard, encased in brown sugar and braised in apple juice.  These three simple ingredients turned out to be quite transformative and may be the only way I'll cook corned beef in the years to come!



Apple and Mustard Braised Corned Beef

INGREDIENTS:
2-3 pound corned beef brisket
1/4 cup grainy mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
12 ounces apple juice

DIRECTIONS:
Place the beef brisket, fat side up, in a Dutch Oven.  Slather the top side with the mustard.  Pack the brown sugar on the top of the mustard, covering the entire brisket.  Slowly pour the apple juice into the side of the Dutch Oven, being careful not to pour it directly on top of the brisket. If desired, add the  enclosed seasoning packet to the apple juice.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender.  To serve, slice thinly against the grain.





Tuesday, February 17, 2015

King Cake (With Cream Cheese Filling) Fake Out


It's Fat Tuesday and a Southern tradition that we carried north is the King Cake. You can read more about the history of the King Cake HERE.


A King Cake is basically a cinnamon coffee cake.  Some cakes (the good ones) are filled with a cream cheese filling. The others, in my humble opinion, tend to run a little boring and dry. As my time this weekend was pressed, and the bakery selection of King Cakes around these parts is limited, I decided to take a few shortcuts and make my own. Here's my Fake Out!

Start the King Cake with some pre-packaged Cinnabon rolls. Carefully unfold two packages onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  It might seem a little messy, but just go with it.  Frosting covers a multitude of sins.

Next, spread a delicious cream cheese filling onto the dough. (See recipe below.) The cream cheese filling is what makes the cake worth eating. Trust me on this one.


Starting from the long ends, roll up the dough into a long tube and bend it around to form a circle, sealing the edges.


Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.


Drizzle with the glaze that comes right in the package and sprinkle with Green, Yellow and Purple sanding sugar or nonpareils.  If you don't use these colors, it's not a King Cake. In case you didn't know. I'm just saying.




Pastry Cream Cheese Filling

2 8-ounce packages Cream Cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg

Mix ingredients together until well blended.  Use as a filling.  Bake as pastry is directed.



Saturday, February 14, 2015

Heart Shaped Egg-In-the-Holes: Tips for the Perfect Egg!


Sometimes breakfast is the only meal we can have together and I'm thankful that, even though my kids are getting older, they still appreciate the magic of the cookie cutter.  These heart shaped Egg-In-The-Holes turned out to be the perfect breakfast on a sub-zero day.


Through trial and error, here are a few tricks I picked up for producing the perfect egg:

  1. Use hearty bread for a good, clean, cookie cutter cut (like Ezekiel Sprouted Grain.)
  2. Butter one side of the bread and put it butter side down on a heated griddle.
  3. Crack your egg into a separate vessel and spoon the yolk into the hole in the bread.  Spoon in enough of the egg white to fill the bread hole, but not so much as it will flow over the cut edge.
  4. Place a large skillet lid over the bread to help steam the egg.  This will allow the egg to cook without the need to flip it.
  5. When the egg begins to solidify, sprinkle with kosher salt.  Garnish with chives.


Wishing you all a Happy Valentine's Day!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mini Chocolate Reindeer Cookies


This was the one cookie that my teenage daughter wanted to make this year and I thought they were adorable.  Mini Chocolate Reindeer Cookies!  Due to the way life has been going this year, we took advantage of every available shortcut.


Did you know you can get chocolate cookie dough in sheets?  Cookie dough in sheets is one of my great friends in life.  Rolled out cookies at our house ranks right up there with homemade pie crust. It's best left to others. These turn out exactly like you cut them. No excess puffing or spreading!


I always keep candy google eyes in my pantry. You never know when they will come in handy!

Wishing you a Blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip


Just a few more days until Christmas and I'm doing my last minute menu planning. I always like to include an appetizer/snack that includes fruits or veggies because A) It's one way to get my kids to eat their fruits and veggies and B) It's one way to get me to eat my fruits and veggies in a sometimes produce-barren time of year!


 This dip comes together in a snap and tastes great with both apples and gingersnaps! 
(And, for my SIL, Fritos! :-)


Merry Christmas!

xo
Rachel



Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

by Rachel @ Simple Girl

8 ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature (full fat -  light comes out too runny)
3/4 cup pumpkin pie filling (not plain pumpkin!)
1 cup powdered sugar
8-ounce container of Cool Whip (can be light)

Beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add powdered sugar.  Beat until lumps are removed.  Add pie filling.  Beat until combined.  Fold in Cool Whip until combined.  Chill until ready to serve.

Serve with apple slices, gingersnaps or Fritos!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Light a Candle


While we are in the midst of the advent season, I just want to encourage you to light a candle.  When the days go by so quickly that you can't even grasp them in your hands, candles cause us to pause. When our to-do lists seem unmanageably long, candles give us a moment to reflect.

Advent candles have long been a tradition in the Christian church. They help us tell the story of the Birth of Christ. As Christmas draws near, the increasing candle light reminds us of the star that shown over Bethlehem. Our anticipation swells with each additional candle lit.


While typically placed in a round wreath, I like to change our candles a little every year to keep them relevant with our lives. This year I took apple red pillar candles and put them in vases from the dollar store.  I wrapped them with green raffia and clipped some chalkboard tags (from Target's dollar section) on each.  I labeled four of them for each of the four Sundays in advent and marked the middle one for Christmas Day. (FYI, lighting the fifth one on Christmas Eve is ok, too!)


Although my kids are getting older, they still enjoy reading Benjamin Bear's journey to the manger in Advent Storybook each night during dinner.

So pause. Light a candle. Reflect on the manger. The shepherds didn't have seven kinds of Christmas cookies. The wise men didn't have coordinating wrapping paper. But the night was holy, full of calm and peace.