Monday, October 26, 2009

Braised Beef Ragout with Penne Pasta

We are expecting snow tomorrow . . . which miffs me since I LOVE Halloween and would rather not have to start traipsing across campus in the wet slippery stuff until AFTER October . . . but I live in Utah . . . so what do you expect? In lieu of the impending weather I felt inclined to spend a little time in the kitchen and try out something new! I wanted something warm, hearty, and comforting . . . so I came up with this recipe after scouring a few cookbooks and finding things that sounded/looked great . . . after a little cupboard scouring and a little fiddle-faddling . . . out came this creation . . . which I will definitely be making for our next dinner guests! Yes it was that good! AND it was easy to make and divine to eat!
Braised Beef Ragout with Penne Pasta
Recipe by: Emily
3 lb Beef Roast (use your favorite cut, or pull out the leftover roast from Sunday and use it!)
2 medium Onions, halved and sliced
2 cups Beef Stock
2 14.5 oz Cans Crushed Tomatoes
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Sugar (cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and vinegar)
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Dried Rosemary
2 Bay leaves

(This dish goes from the stove top to the oven. I used a large frying pan that was oven safe, so I only had one pot to clean. However, you can brown the meat in a pan, cook the onions, and combine the sauce and then place everything in a roasting pan to braise in the oven as well.)

1. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat on a stove top. Add roast to the pan and brown on both sides. Remove the meat and set aside while you make the sauce/braising liquid.
2.Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet, add the sliced onions and cook until lightly browned. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds with the onions. Add the crushed tomatoes, beef stock, balsamic vinegar, sugar, rosemary, salt, pepper, and bay leaves to the onion and garlic mixture and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce for about 3 minutes and then add the meat back to the pot. Remove skillet from the stove top and cover with a lid or foil and place in a 350 degree oven. Cook in the oven for about 2 hours, the meat should be become tender and the sauce will begin to thicken.
3. Remove from the oven and shred the beef with two forks, and then return to the oven for 15 more minutes to allow sauce to thicken and meat to tenderize more. Remove bay leaves, taste and season if needed and serve over pasta or polenta. Enjoy! This dish is different from the typical meat sauce or marinara over pasta plus it is rich, hearty and just plain delish!

(This sauce would be amazing in Lasagna or over any pasta!!!)

I substituted venison for the beef once and it was wonderful!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The BEST Caramel Popcorn EVER

My mom's side of the fam put together a cookbook years ago with favorite recipes from everyone. It is the first place that I look for recipes or ideas. . . we continually add to it . . . in fact I need to add my Open Pantry recipes to it . . . anyways my Aunt Alyson has a killer caramel popcorn recipe in it that puts all other goodies to shame! I love it because A. it is easy to make and B. it is gooey deliciousness! I have tried MANY popcorn recipes but sorry kids . . . this is the fav! The only downside about making it is that we eat it . . . all of it . . . no matter how many people are present . . . and then we scrap every last drop or caramel from the bowl . . . sometimes I double the recipe to make EXTRA gooey popcorn . . . so then there is even more caramel to fight over in the bottom of the bowl! Love it! The hubs and I added peanuts and candy corn to make a Halloween treat this time around and yes we nearly ate the whole bowl for dinner! (LOVED IT!)
Aunt Aly's Caramel Popcorn
Recipe by: Alyson Christensen

1/2 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
4 Tbsp Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup light Corn Syrup
1/2 tsp Vanilla

Melt the butter and add the brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and corn syrup. Cook for about 3-5 minutes for gooey caramel or until the caramel reaches a 280 degree temperature on a candy thermometer for set caramel. Stir while cooking to prevent burning. Pour over popped popcorn and stir to coat popcorn. Enjoy!

You can add any goodies for even more gooey deliciousness . . . such as nuts, candy corn, M&M's, Reese's Pieces etc. If you add a candy that can melt (such as M&M's, freeze the candy first to keep it from melting all over.)