March 29, 2013

Blackberry Syrup

I had a bunch of blackberries to use up and thought that a Blackberry Syrup would be a healthy alternative to syrup great addition to the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. To make the syrup is actually a very simple process (I guess that's why they call it "simple syrup"). Boil an equal ratio of sugar to water on the stove, and add enough fruit to flavor it.

INGREDIENTS
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 package of blackberries
DIRECTIONS
  1. Add the sugar, water and blackberries into a saucepan over high heat. Immediately begin to whisk together to get all the sugar dissolved and avoid clumps or burns.
  2. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth into a glass jar and keep for a couple of weeks. Enjoy :)

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I can't think of a better way to welcome spring and celebrate Easter than over Lemon Ricotta Pancakes make with only the freshest of fruit. The flavors of this breakfast complement each other very nicely without overpowering one another. Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma. Makes about 10-12 pancakes.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 cup Organic Milk
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, milk, egg whites, sugar, lemon zest and juice until smooth.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and the salt over the ricotta mixture and stir with a spatula until just combined.
  3. Preheat a griddle over medium heat. Spray the griddle with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake.
  4. Cook until bubbles form on top and the pancakes are golden underneath, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a warmed plate. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve hot with Blackberry Syrup and enjoy!

March 14, 2013

Beef and Guinness Irish Stew

Back in October, my boyfriend and I attended the Celtic Festival in Richmond with a few of our close friends. One of the meals we enjoyed while we were there was Guinness Beef Stew. It was slow cooked to comfort food perfection- tender beef and potatoes that left my belly feeling satisfied and my mind knowing I had to recreate it in my kitchen! View original recipe here.

Serves 4-6.
Allow 2-2½ hours of prep, mostly unattended.

Tip 1 I made this at night, let the stew cool, then refrigerated it. All I had to do the next night for dinner was heat a few servings on the stove and I was done! So easy!
Tip 2 (From the original recipe) For those weeks when every evening is booked up, prep this meal in the morning. Complete steps 1 to 3, then pour stew into the slow cooker. Dinner will be ready when you walk through the door.


INGREDIENTS
  • 2 ½ lb stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup diced (¼-inch thick) red onion
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 ½ cups beef stock
  • 1 ½ cups Guinness
  • 2 tbsp organic tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp fresh Thyme leaves, chopped


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the beef in a large bowl and sprinkle with the flour, salt and pepper, turning to cover completely. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Sear ¼ of the beef at a time being careful not to crowd the pan. Turn the beef cubes so they are uniformly brown on all sides; be sure to control heat so beef and drippings do not burn. Remove the first batch to a paper towel lined baking sheet; continue to cook remaining batches until all beef is seared and set aside.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and add onion, carrots, potatoes and garlic to the same pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the beef back to the pot along with the stock, Guinness, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and thyme, stirring to combine.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil and then cover the casserole pot and bake in the oven for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours until the beef is tender. Cool and refrigerate in pot overnight.
  5. The next evening, reheat, serve in warm bowls and enjoy :)

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
436 calories, 17g fat, 53mg calcium, 684mg sodium, 27g carbohydrates, 3g fiber  40g protein. Excellent source of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12, Magnesium, Iron and Zinc.

Happy St. Patrick's weekend! For my fellow Guinness lovers- a few favorite posters from Google Images :)




March 13, 2013

Blueberry Coffee Cake

I love blueberries and I love coffee cake.
When I came across this recipe, there was no question that I would enjoy every last bite! Last Easter, I made a Blueberry Brunch Cake and thought that was delicious; however, after putting this Coffee Cake to the test, it put the Brunch Cake to shame. As a fellow blueberry lover, I knew this recipe was what I was going to make for my cousin's bridal shower! Recipe adapted from Sweet Anna's.

INGREDIENTS
For the Crumble Topping:
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup butter, softened



For the Cake:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen, do not thaw!)


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease a 9x13″ baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the first five ingredients, mixing together with a fork until crumbly; set aside.
  3. In another medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  4. In a large bowl, cream together the remaining butter and sugar. Blend in the egg and vanilla until smooth. Blend in the flour mixture and cream alternately, beginning and ending with the flour (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Fold in the blueberries. (The dough is quite stiff, so be patient as you’re folding in the berries! Don’t mush them up!)
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the crumble topping. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool, and cut into bite size squares. Enjoy :)
Here are a few more pictures I wanted to share from her beautiful shower!

A delicious spread of food!

The beverage station

The Bride-to-Be and myself, her MOH :)