Sunday, March 8, 2015

Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Soup

We had another snow day this week. People keep claiming it's the last gasp of winter, but I'll believe when I see it. Until then, you'll find me at home in my fleece pants waiting for a delicious dinner in my slow cooker.

Notes: This is just about the most comforting soup I could ask for on a cold snow day. It also gave us plenty of leftovers.

The peas and corn will be better if you don't add them in the slow cooker at the beginning. I have the recipe written so that you add in them in the last two hours, but that's flexible. You could put them in when you get home from work or an hour before the soup is finished. You just put them in when it works for you. If you don't want to bother, substitute some fresh chopped green beans and you can just add those when you add everything else.

1 pound stew beef
1 26 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 onion
5-6 carrots
5-6 stalks of celery
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 small bunch fresh oregano
1 small bunch fresh parsley
A few drops liquid smoke
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup of water


Peel and slice the carrots. Slice the celery and dice the onion. Chop the herbs.

Put the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. Put the stew beef on top and season it with salt and better. Add in the celery, carrots, and tomatoes. Season with more salt, pepper, liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce. Add in herbs and water. Set the slow cooker to 10 hours on low.

With about two hours left on the time, add in the frozen peas and corn (see note). Stir everything together and break up the stew beef with the spoon. Serve piping hot and enjoy on a cold winter's day!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Chocolate Scones

Last winter was terrible. This winter has been better, but February has been pretty bad. The only good thing is that being stuck in the house with ice and snow has led to baking.

Notes: No picture for these (I forgot). They weren't as sweet as I was expecting, so I rewrote the recipe including a little powdered sugar to make them sweeter.

You can either make these as drop scones by rolling them into little balls and dropping them on the baking sheet. You can also make them triangle scones using a cake pan. Or you could use around cookie cutter. I included the directions for triangle scones and the round ones.

These would be great with some raspberry jam or some Nutella!

2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup whole milk

Directions: Heat oven to 350

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt and milk.

Cut butter into small squares and add to the dry mixture. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it's the size of small peas. 

Add in the yogurt and milk and stir until a soft, sticky dough forms.

To make triangle scones, pat the dough into a (buttered) 9-inch cake pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes. 

For round scones, pat the dough out onto a floured surface. Using a floured biscuit cutter (or old aluminum can or small glass) cut rounds out of the dough and place on a baking sheet. Gather the scraps into a ball and pat it down again. Cut out more rounds. Repeat until you don't have any dough left. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Allow them to cool for about 5 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Slow Cooker St. Louis Spareribs

It was another wintry icy day here. Luckily we went to the grocery store yesterday and took care of all our errands. I had planned to make these ribs anyway and it just worked out that the gross icy day turned out to be slow cooker ribs day!

Notes: These were delicious! If you like saucy ribs, warm up a cup of your favorite bottled sauce before the ribs are done and paint it on when you take them out of the slow cooker. I liked the dry rub all by itself, though we did add a little hot sauce.

Stay tuned: I'm planning to use the leftover rib meat for another recipe.

2 pounds pork spareribs (sometimes labeled St. Louis style or country style)
1 onion

Dry rub:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon cumin
5-6 drops liquid smoke


The night before you want to make ribs, mix together the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Break up as many of the clumps as you can to form a smooth mixture. 

Put the ribs in a glass baking dish and rub each one with dry rub. Massage the dry rub in thoroughly. Cover with foil or plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. 

In the morning, slice the onion into rings and lay them at the bottom of your slow cooker. Put the ribs in meat side up (fit them in as best you can). Set the slow cooker for 10 hours on low.

Pull the ribs out carefully (the meat will fall off the bone). Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cobbled-together Chocolate Chip Cookies

Friday night I decided I wanted chocolate chip cookies. I had not planned to make them, but I did indeed have chocolate chips in the house, so at that point it was just a matter of forming the cookie base. I was running low on several things, so none of my standard cookie recipes were going to work. So, I did what any good impulse baker would do: I improvised.

Notes: Much to my surprise, I didn't ruin these. Lately, I've some how been screwing up my normal cookie recipes. Too much butter, I think. I am also notorious for screwing up oatmeal cookies of any sort, so the fact that I put oats in these was inviting disaster. But the combination of flour, oats, and refrigeration worked.

These cookies have a nice nutty flavor thanks to the oats and the peanut butter. They are also chewy thanks to the oats and brown sugar. They have a mild sweetness as well, so if you're trying to cut down on sugar, these are for you.

1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


Melt the butter in the microwave and pour it into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Add in the brown sugar and beat on medium for a few minutes until well-combined. Put the mixer on low and add in the egg, applesauce, and peanut butter. The mixture will look curdled, but that's normal.

Stir in the flour, oats, and baking soda until just combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips.

Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.

Heat the oven to 350. Spoon tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto two cookie sheets. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy your cobbled-together cookies!