Beef, Stout, and Potato Pot Pie

Normally, I would neither write nor post at this hour of the day. But since my son has decided that 5:30 a.m. is a good time to wake up and is now happily reading some of the many books he got for Christmas, it seems like a prime time to blog. Maybe that will leave me time to nap later– hey! We are supposed to be hopeful during the Christmas season, right?

I tried a tasty, new recipe last night for braised short rib, stout, and potato pot pies. You can find Martha Stewart’s original recipe here: http://www.marthastewart.com/854493/braised-short-rib-stout-and-potato-potpies

Honestly, my motivation to try the recipe was to begin the process of convincing my husband, who grimaces at the mention of pot pie (which I love), that it can be a savor-worthy dinner. This dish doesn’t use the two elements that turn my husband off in most pot pies: pie crust or creamy sauce, so it’s a logical place to start. 

The beef, stout, and potato pot pie has a more complicated process than I usually choose for recipes (stovetop and two different oven sessions). However, the simple ingredients and rich gravy the beef stews in make the extra steps worth the extra effort. 

I did make some adjustments to the recipe. First, I didn’t use short ribs. I had chopped a beef roast into stew meat to freeze after my last trip to the grocery store, so I used a portion of that. It ended up being between a pound and a half to two pounds of beef. Consequently, I reduced the amount of stout to one and a half bottles. I also didn’t use the cipollini onions (veggie chunks, tasty though they may be, don’t go over well in my household). Finally, I thought I had rosemary in my pantry, but didn’t, so I replaced it with 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. 

My husband and father-in-law gave me plenty of compliments on this filling dish. They seemed to especially enjoy the potato “crust.” I will probably increase the amount of potatoes next time, maybe with a double layer on top… As for me, I loved how tender the beef was. My son actually seemed to enjoy the beef as well. 

Speaking of my son, he’s starting to get into things other than his toys (like my full glass of ice water), so I’m done for now. I highly recommend giving this recipe a try!

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Crescent Cheese Danishes

The last time I had family visiting for a holiday, I made a double batch of the Jiffy baking mix cinnamon rolls, and they were a big hit. This past weekend, I didn’t feel quite so industrious, so I decided to try a simpler recipe for danishes — and by simple, I mean that I was able to make part of the recipe (cream cheese filling) the night before and simple assemble the danishes the morning I planned to serve them. You can find the recipe here: http://myincrediblerecipes.com/crescent-cheese-danishes/

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Like I said above, the recipe is simple and kid-friendly. Oddly enough, I was up before my son; otherwise, he could have helped prepare the dough and spoon in the filling. He did enjoy eating the end result. The danishes were soft and sweet. I also enjoyed the little crunchy bits where the brown sugar did not get entirely covered by the cream cheese. I don’t really think the glaze that gets drizzled on at the end is necessary. In fact, the flavor gets lost in the cream cheese. My only real caveat for this recipe is that because it uses refrigerated dough, you need to make them and eat them immediately (remember that if you follow the recipe as it’s written, it makes two dozen small danishes). The texture of the dough isn’t nearly as pleasing once it’s been sitting at room temperature or in the refrigerator. All in all, it’s a good option if you need an easy breakfast for a crowd.

Chocolate-Dipped Clementines

About two months ago, I was sitting in a waiting room flipping through a magazine when I came across a recipe for a healthy snack: dark chocolate-dipped clementine segments sprinkled with sea salt. Since my family fought off a nasty stomach bug last week (that’s why I didn’t post anything), I decided that healthy and super simple was the way to go for this week’s recipe.

I don’t have the original recipe, but there wasn’t much to remember anyway: clementines, chocolate chips, sea salt. I have to say, the snack boasts a number of benefits beyond the obvious simplicity and dose of vitamin C. First, you make as much or as little as you want. I had about 5 ounces of chocolate chips left over from a recipe for holiday fudge, so I only peeled two clementines; that was just about a perfect amount of chocolate for the citrus segments. Second, you can easily personalize the treats. I used milk chocolate chips, but semi-sweet would be great, too. I also didn’t sprinkle on any sea salt because I’m watching my sodium right now. If you’re looking for something fancy, drizzle melted white chocolate over the slices, add sprinkles, or dip in crushed pecans… the sky’s the limit. Third, these work great as a snack, but are also a great filler for holiday cookie trays.

Here’s how I made this snazzy snack:

Ingredients

Clementines (estimate 2 per 5-6 ounces of chocolate chips)

Chocolate chips

Vegetable oil (helps chocolate to melt smoothly; ¼ to ½ teaspoon per 6 ounces of chocolate is plenty)

Sea salt (optional)

Directions

Line a plate or baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel clementines and separate into segments. Try to avoid getting too much juice on the outside of the segments; otherwise, the chocolate slides off the segments.

Use a microwave and microwave-safe bowl to melt the chocolate chips at medium power (50-60%) in 30 second intervals. Stir after each interval. Once the chocolate is smooth, dredge the segments (rather than dip) in the chocolate to get it to stick to the clementines. Place onto the parchment paper. When finished, put plate in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to set.

Eat cold and within a few hours; the uncovered area of the clementine segments will dry out pretty quickly.

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Let me just say: WOW! Cold, juicy sweetness explodes when you bite through the chocolate shell. I really loved this treat. In terms of texture, it reminds me of chocolate-covered cherries and those chocolate-covered fruit jellies. The flavor is reminiscent of the solid chocolate oranges you find at this time of year – except it’s not at all artificial. My son just sucked the chocolate off his clementine segments, so the combination of textures and flavors didn’t appeal to him. I’m not too upset by this, though. More chocolate-dipped clementines for me!