Thursday, February 28, 2013

Reuben Sandwiches

I had a craving, as I am wont to do, for Reuben sandwiches. I make these best at home. Seriously. We don't have a lot of fancy delicatessens here. So I learned how to make these myself. First, start with a raw corned beef brisket. Don't be intimidated. The local grocer has these, particularly around St. Patrick's Day, and they are amazing. I was short on time to do the oven roasting that I've done before so this time I made the beef in the crock. It worked fine. Definitely try these and you'll be amazed. 

Reuben Sandwiches 

Start with a 3-4 lb corned beef brisket.
I didn't have a rack to fit in my crock so I rolled up some foil about an inch thick and put three strips down to serve as a rack sort of thing. Put the brisket in onto the 'rack' and included the juice from the bag. Add a little water to the crock, maybe 1/2-1 cup so it just about touches the bottom of the brisket. Sprinkle top with the seasoning packet that comes with the brisket. Cover and cook on high. Mine was a flat brisket so it cooked tender in 4 hours. A larger brisket would cook well all day on high. You want it fallin' apart. If you're going the oven-roasted route, just follow the easy directions on the package. You can't fail, almost.

Now, gather your Reuben supplies: 
pumpernickel rye bread, darker the better I think
sauerkraut, warmed
Swiss cheese
thousand island (I was out so I made my own. I'll share that in another post)
butter for grilling

When the beef is ready take out of crock and trim away any fat. Cut into 1" thick slices. Butter one of the sides of the bread. Layer on one slice of bread: Thousand Island, Swiss, beef (generously), kraut, Swiss and top with the other slice of bread. Grill until lightly browned and crispy. Decadent for sure and worth the effort. Have lots of napkins at the ready.

[Note: The one I photographed was not grilled. I put the slices of bread in the toaster oven, with a slice of Swiss on each and toasted until the cheese was melty and the bread crisp. Still just as wonderful and not grilled so at least a little better for you... but not by much!]

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Italian Beef Sandwiches

The inspiration: A Facebook friend in Chicago. A mecca to some out of the way but famous sandwich shop. The photo of a giant Italian beef sandwich. The mission: to find a recipe and make this at home since I am not going to Chicago anytime soon. The recipe I found was for a roast baked in the oven for 6 hours. I don't have many afternoons open for roasting beef in the oven. The solution: crock pot.  Result: AWESOME.

Italian Beef for Sandwiches

1 beef roast, 3-4 lbs
1 packet of dry zesty Italian dressing mix
2-3 cups of beef broth (or 2 cans beef consommé if that's your thing)
1 jar (16 oz) sliced pepperoncini peppers, with juice (yes with juice!)
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
salt, to taste

1 package french rolls or sub rolls or even brat buns, which I used very successfully.
sliced monterrey jack or shredded mozzarella cheese

Put beef roast in the crock. Combine broth, HALF of the jar of peppers with juice, garlic and salt. Pour over roast and sprinkle top with dry dressing mix. Cook on low all day (8-9 hours). When you get home, turn to low, shred the beef and stir in the juice. Slice buns and top with cheese, toast or broil until melty. Top with beef and some of the peppers. Serve with some of the beef juice. These are pretty tasty. In fact, I ooo-ed and aah-ed so much at dinner my husband said it was starting to sound like bragging. It was that good.

Egg Drop Soup

Egg Drop Soup © Marcy Olson
This one is hard to write down. I made it up after my husband and I decided it was too expensive to buy a tiny cup of egg drop soup for $3. It's soup after all made with broth and eggs... how hard can it be? It's not hard, but hard to explain what to do. So here it is, roughly.

Egg Drop Soup Marcy-Style

4 cups water
4 cubes of chicken boullion (or 4 spoonfuls if you use the soft kind)
Bring this to a boil in a small saucepan. When it reaches a light boil, add the thickener: 1/2 cup cold water and one heaping soup spoon of corn starch mixed until smooth. Stir into boiling broth. Heat until it thickens and becomes clear again. 

Now take 2-3 eggs (depending on how eggy you like your soup) and beat the heck out of them. Now as you are ready to drop the beaten egg into the soup, start whisking the broth so the egg gets thin and broken up as you very slowly drop it in. (Get it? egg drop!) 

Stir in some chopped scallions, salt and pepper to taste, and top with those crispy wonton strips you can get in the salad department of the grocery store. 

It's easy and once you do it a time or two, you get the hang of it. And really it makes you wonder why you're spending $3 on a little cup when you can spend about a dollar on a whole pot of it. Yummy.

© Marcy Olson

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Little Devil Cupcakes

I first tasted these cupcakes when a girl brought them to school... back in the days when treats could be homemade. They are a delicious chocolate cupcake. A cream cheese-cakey filling dotted with mini morsels. Topped with perfectly chocolate frosting. Love. Love. Love. Love. Insane. You have to call them Little Devils because you can't resist the temptation.

Little Devil Cupcakes

1 box Devil's Food cake mix, made according to directions

1 package of cream cheese (just get the regular stuff don't bother skimping on these)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1- 12 oz. bag of Toll House mini morsels chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Make cake mix according to directions. I make all cake mixes with an extra 1T of oil. Makes it a little extra moist. Filling: cream sugar and cream cheese in mixer.  Add egg, beat well. Add salt and vanilla and mix until smooth. Stir in choc chips. 

Prepare cupcake tin: use liners and spray, that makes everything release very easily. Fill 2/3 full. Drop filling generously with tablespoon on top of cake batter. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool completely. 

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups frosting.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pear Upside-Down Cake

I have to thank my friend, Jody, for this recipe. If you like pears, this is a special treat. I found myself with about 6 pears more than I could bear to eat raw so having a recipe for something was very welcome. D'Anjou pears are best, they get soft but have a bit more substance than Bartlett pears. Red pears would make a pretty upside-down cake if you kept the peels on, which I did.

Pear Upside-Down Cake

Set oven to 350 degrees. Put 3 T melted butter (or part butter part oil) in the bottom of 8x8 baking dish along with 2 T brown sugar and 1 tsp five-spice powder. Cut up 3 or 4 pears into slivers and arrange in the butter/sugar mixture.

Mix the liquid ingredients together:

1/4 cup canola or other mild-flavored oil

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp or more of crystallized ginger if you have it.

Combine the dry ingredients:

1-3/8 cup flour

1/2 plus 1/8 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients until blended. Then add

1/2 cup hot water and beat it in.

Ladle the batter over the pears & bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Turn the cake upside down on a platter if you wish. Serve with whipped cream.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Baked Oatmeal Cups

I was looking for something healthy and different to bring to work for a co-worker's birthday. We all talk about how the standard doughnuts are NOT it cutting for us anymore. The over-40 club has to look out for each other. So I found this recipe online, made some adjustments, and therefore made it my own. They are moist and tasty oatmeal servings you can eat with your hands. Incredible. Another co-worker did bring doughnuts, but I think the oatmeal cups were a hit. I really liked them and the extras made for great breakfasts cold from the refrigerator the next day. I hope you enjoy them too.

Baked Oatmeal Cups
2 eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup applesauce, unsweetened, smooth or chunky
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup honey (I used orange blossom)
2-1/2 cups rolled oats (I used old-fashioned oats)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups milk (I used almond milk)

Toppings: Fresh or dried blueberries, raspberries, raisins, pecans, almonds, drizzled honey, or any other combination. I used fresh blackberries and dried raisins and dried cinnamon fuji apples.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tins with cooking spray or use cupcake liners (which I also spray to make oatmeal come out of the liners more easily.)

Mix eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana and honey together in a bowl. Add in oats, flax, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and mix well with wet ingredients.  Add milk and stir to combine.

Spoon batter evenly into each muffin liner (I used a soup spoon). Batter is pretty wet and sloppy. You can fill to the top, this batter doesn't rise. Top each muffin cup with desired toppings.

(I have standard sized muffin tins and had extra batter so I put it in a bread pan. It was about 3/4" deep and baked the same amount of time as muffin tins.)

Bake 25-30 minutes; test with a toothpick to make sure it is dry in the middle.   Serve warm or slightly cooled.  Drizzle each muffin with honey when serving if desired.  Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.