Beef Bourguignon Soup

Hello all– Larry and I arrived last night for a week in Wisconsin with our kids here.  And guess what!!  This afternoon it snowed!!  Not a lot, just a few minutes of flakes coming down and it was magical!  I’m hoping for more snow before our week here is over.

Which brings me to this rich and hearty soup.  On a snowy (or maybe not so snowy) winter day I think you’d love a bowl of Beef Bourguignon Soup, with a bright salad and a chunk of sturdy bread– just right!

BEEF BOURGUIGNON SOUP
6 slices of bacon
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 pounds sirloin steak
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 tab. tomato paste
2 cups red wine
6 cups beef broth
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
4 bay leaves
2 tsp. brown sugar
6 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 pound baby yellow potatoes, Cut to bite sized pieces*
2 tab. butter
8 oz brown mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
garnish: parsley

Cut the bacon into bits and cook it in a large soup pot until is it crispy, but not too browned.  Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon fat in the pot.

Mix together the flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in mixing bowl.  Cut the sirloin into smallish pieces.  Coat half of the sirloin in the flour mixture.  Shake off the excess flour and brown the beef (about 3 minutes, stirring a bit to coat all sides) in the hot bacon fat.  Remove that beef with a slotted spoon and do the same with the second half of the sirloin.  Take the second round of beef from the pot when it’s browned and set all the beef aside.

In the same soup pot, cook the chopped onion on high for about 3 minutes (add a bit of olive oil if the pan looks dry).  Then add in the garlic and cook a minute more.  Next pour in the wine and tomato paste and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the browned sirloin, the beef broth, thyme, bay leaf and brown sugar into the pot and bring it to a low simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the beef is tender.

Then add in the carrots and potatoes and cook 25 minutes more until the veggies are cooked but firm.

While they are cooking, melted the butter in a sauce pan.  Add in the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook the mushrooms 8 to 10 minutes until they are tender.  When the carrots and potatoes are done, add in the cooked mushrooms and the bacon.  Serve the soup up hot with a sprinkle of parsley for garnish.

*The recipe I worked from called for 2 large Russet potatoes cut to bit, but I had these smaller golden potatoes in the fridge, so that’s what I used.  If you use big Russets, then peel them before you cut them up.  Golden potatoes don’t need to be peeled.

Strawberries & Cream Chocolate Cake

Hi everyone– Happy to say the strawberry stands around here have opened up for the season!  I don’t know about you, but when the strawberries appear, it seems like spring is here.  So we’re putting them to good use with this creamy strawberry filled triple fudgy  chocolate cake.

STRAWBERRIES & CREAM CHOCOLATE CAKE

Cake:
1 chocolate cake mix*
water
canola oil
3 eggs
1 cup mini chocolate chips**
1 cup hot fudge sauce

Topping:
2 cups strawberries, cut to small bits
1 pint heavy whipping cream (2 cups)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1 big pretty strawberry for garnish

Using an electric mixer, make the cake according to the directions on the box.  (Mine used 1  1/4 cups water, 1/2 oil and 3 eggs.)  Stir in the cup of mini chocolate chips.  (Save the hot fudge for later)

Spoon the batter into a 9″x 13″ baking dish*** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  And bake the cake about 25 minutes until it is firm to the touch on top.

Poke holes into the top of the warm cake and drizzle in the cup of hot fudge to fill the holes and coat the top of the cake.  (You may need to warm the fudge sauce 30 seconds in the microwave to make it pourable).

Let the cake cool completely before adding the topping!!

Remove the leaves and cut the strawberries to small bits and set aside.  With an electric mixer beat the cream, pudding mix and powdered sugar until it is thick and set (the whisk attachment works best for this).  Stir in the strawberry bits and spoon the cream onto the top of the cooled cake.  Garnish with a single pretty sliced strawberry.

You can serve it right away, but if it sits in the fridge for an hour or two the topping will set up more firmly. Enjoy!!

*I like Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate cake mix
**Mini chocolate chips are best because they don’t sink to the bottom, like the regular size ones.
***In place of a 9″x 13″ baking dish, I used an 11″ springform pan.  If you don’t have one of those on hand and want round cakes– put the batter in two 9″ cake pans.

Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies

Hello Cookie Eating Friends–  You know there are some foods that just belong together– peanut butter & jelly,  peaches & cream,  bacon & eggs…  What’s your favorite pair??  Mine is chocolate & almonds!  When the occasional box of See’s candy comes in our door, I search the box for the little mound of perfectly chocolate coated almonds.  Heavenly!

So here’s a great little chocolatey almond cookie.  I made a big batch for an evening with friends and am sorry to say I ate almost I ate almost all the leftover cookies!!  Not too sweet, rich and buttery.  I think you’d like them as much as I do!!

CHOCOLATE CHIP ALMOND COOKIES
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature*
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tab. amaretto** (or vanilla)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup mini chocolate chips

With an electric mixer (start on low so ingredients don’t fly out of the bowl!), beat together the softened butter, powdered sugar, amaretto, flour and salt– until it is a bowl of coarse crumbs.  Be patient.  It takes 3 or 4 minutes to combine the butter and flour.

Then add in the almonds and mini chocolate chips and beat it with the electric mixer until the dough all sticks together.

Spread a thin layer of flour on the counter and roll out the dough until it is about 1/4″ thick.  If it sticks to the rolling pin, flour a tiny bit on top as well.

Use your favorite cookie cutter shape to cut them out and lay them on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake them up at 350 degrees for 12 to 13 minutes until they are golden around the edges. Enjoy!!

*If you’re pulling it out of the fridge (like I did), just give the butter 15 seconds in the microwave.
**I use amaretto because it gives the almond flavor, but at a fraction of the cost of almond extract.  The recipe I worked from used vanilla instead, so that would be great too!

This Day

“One life on this earth is all we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and beautifully as we can.”
— Frederick Buechner  (born 1926 NYC, American writer and theologian)

Love this thought.  And carrying it further, this one life is made of single days.  Like today.  I only get this one once.  So I’m starting it with this in mind, to live it fully and beautifully.”

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  — Psalm 118:24

P.S.  photo from our Wisconsin travels last summer

Farmer Egg & Potato Breakfast


Good morning Breakfast Buddies– We have a group at church called MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).  I obviously do not fall into that category!!  But lucky for me, there is also a older mentor mom at each table.  So I get to hang out with all those fun moms and their adorable kids on Tuesdays.

We start off each get-together with breakfast (a highlight for us all)– and last week I brought along these eggs and potatoes all baked up together.  Delicious!  And happily, you throw it all together the night before and in the morning, just pop it into the oven!

FARMER EGG & POTATO BREAKFAST
6 cups frozen hash browns*
1  1/2 cup grated cheddar
2 cups ham, cut to small bits
1/2 cup green onion, sliced (about 4)
8 eggs
3 cups whole milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Make this ahead the night before you want to cook it up for breakfast.

Spray a 9″x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread the hash browns on the bottom of the dish.  Then layer on the cheddar, ham and green onion.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until they are blended.  Then whisk in the milk, salt and pepper.  Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients in the baking dish.

Cover it with foil and set it into the fridge overnight.  The next morning, let the dish sit out for 30 minutes and then take off the foil and bake up the whole thing at 350 degrees for 60 to 65 minutes.  Enjoy!

*Use the shredded hash browns, not the chunky kind!

Mixed Berry Cobbler

Hello all–  Wonderful time with friends last night– went to dinner at IL Amerikano for dinner, sort of Mexicanish-American food.  I took full advantage of their spiced French fries with cilantro ranch dressing!!  And then we all headed back to our house for this berry cobbler– warmed in the oven with a plop of vanilla ice cream — accompanied by good conversation.  The best kind of Saturday night!


MIXED BERRY COBBLER

Berries:
6 cups mixed berries
(I used blueberries, blackberries & strawberries)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tab. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt

Biscuits:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tab. cornmeal
2  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup buttermilk*
6 tab. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla


In a large mixing bowl stir together the berries, 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Nestle the berries into a 9″ square (or deep round) baking dish.  Pop them in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.

While they are baking, make the cobbler (biscuits) to set on top.  Mix together the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.  Then stir in the buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla.  Mix it up to make a stiff dough.

Drop the the dough by spoonfuls onto the hot berries and turn up the oven to 400 degrees.  Bake for 15 to 17 minutes until the cobbler is golden.  Serve it warm with ice cream.  Perfect!

*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, pour a tablespoon of cider vinegar in a measuring cup and fill to 1/3 with milk.  Let it sit a couple minutes to thicken.

My Notebook

Hi friends– If you’ve been reading here for a while you know Larry and I are going through some difficult life circumstances (that I really can’t spell out here).  It’s going to go on for a while and while I would never say, “Yes let’s do this again!!,”  it’s been a blessed time in many ways for us.

When friends and family started to come around and encourage us, I started to keep a notebook– words of love and strength from friends, from the Bible, texts and notes and things I read…  One friend texted me every morning for weeks last summer with fortifying thoughts and I wrote those all in the notebook.  Plus I listed over 50 people who told us they were praying with us.

All these notes are a joy and a picture of of God’s care for us. I love reading over the pages.  Here’s a few things from the notebook:

“In order to realize the worth of an anchor, we need to feel the stress of the storm.”  –Corrie Ten Boom

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  — I Peter 4:7

“Everybody has stuff– No one gets a stuff free life”  — my friend Betty Key

“A season of suffering is small price to pay for a clear view of God.”  — Max Lucado

“Love you guys and so sorry you have to go through his, but we are praying something good comes of it”  — text from Joanne

“Nothing escapes the hand of God, especially when it involves his beloved, you.  xo”  — text from Debbie

“Some advice from “Finding Nemo,” –Just keep swimming!”  —  text from Jenon

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you with his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  — Zephaniah 3:17

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.  Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”  — Psalm 86:3-4

“I lie awake at night thinking of you, of how much you have helped me, and how I rejoice through the night, beneath the protecting shadow of your wings.”  –Psalm 63:6-7

There’s more in the notebook, but I just wanted to say what a help and strength all words have been.  So thankful.