I continued my cooking marathon yesterday with three more recipes, all from Once A Month Meals.
The first was a slow cooker recipe I’ve made before, their World Famous Beef Stroganoff. The final recipe is creamy and hearty with succulent beef pieces and meaty mushrooms. Classically served over egg noodles, it cooks all day and only takes ten minutes to finish when you’re ready to eat.
The recipe does neglect to mention that the beef roast needs to be cut up before flouring and browning, so that was the first step. I’m not the best at butchering, but I certainly enjoy the practice. (PS: the purple knife was quickly disposed of in favor of a large butchering knife once I got started!)
Having too much beef in the pot – like I do in the picture above – stops browning and allows the meat to steam instead. This is not a good thing – steam detracts flavor in this case rather than add to it – so cook in batches if you have this much meat.
Once the beef is browned you set it aside and use the drippings to make a gravy and cook the mushrooms (in this case I used baby Bellas, which I think have better flavor and texture than your typical white mushrooms).
Eight ounces of wine seemed a bit much to add at the end, but after cooking it for hours in the slow cooker, the wine taste fades. I ended up adding Barefoot Moscato, a very sweet wine, which was the only white left in my parents’ cellar. I could have easily just replaced the wine with more beef broth.
Once the recipe is tgawed and slow cooked, you add a small amount of sour cream at the end of cooking to give the the classic tang and creaminess that you expect from Stroganoff.
The second recipe was a Ham and Mozzarella Stromboli, which I’ve also made before with great success. There’s only four ingredients and it’s very easy to put together. Unless you’re like me and assume that you know how to make it without the directions!! You simply roll out the pizza dough, layer mozzarella, basil and ham over half the dough, and fold the other half over and bake.
If you don’t follow the directions, you roll the dough tightly like a pinwheel pastry! As a result, the middle of my Stromboli had raw dough in it and the outside was baked and crunchy. I had to cut it into pieces and bake it for an extended time at a low temperature to get the middle cooked without burning the outside.
I also didn’t grease the sheet pan (I’m spoiled by my silicone baking sheets that are normally in the pans at my house). When I took the stromboli out the first time, the entire bottom was firmly stuck to the tray. It required extreme use of a metal spatula to get the bottom detached from the top!
After the decapitation, cutting, and continuous cooking, the pieces came out relatively well. They freeze excellently and reheat quickly, and the basil adds a wonderful herb flavor that accents the salt of the ham and creaminess of the cheese. I also add a very small amount of mustard across the layers to add a small amount of spice to the sandwich.
The final recipe was a new one called Quinoa Pizza Bites. I had severe doubts about this recipe, mostly because I don’t particularly like quinoa (it’s over-praised) and didn’t think it would work well as a base for pizza snacks.
This recipe has quite a few ingredients, but the basis of all of these snack bites are similar. Flour or a grainy substitute (in this case quinoa, in other snack cake recipes I’ve used rice) mixes with a binder such as eggs, and then flavoring with cheese and a variety of spices is added. The snack cakes are formed and baked to harden the cakes and make them easy to eat.
I couldn’t find plain easy-cook quinoa at my local mega-mart, so I opted for the sun-dried tomato and herb version, which helped add to the pizza flavor. The pepperoni in this recipe is a necessary addition to supplement the pizza taste – I bought a stick of the better-quality stuff and diced it into small pieces to add to the cakes.
One vital omission from this recipe is that you HAVE to grease the baking pan very well. The recipe calls for a mini muffin tin, which makes it easy to form the cakes, but forming little balls on a baking sheet should be fine. However the quinoa sticks firmly to the pan and you have to scrape the cakes out rather than have them plop out of the pan obligingly. That leaves you with pieces of pizza snacks rather than a whole cake. They also make very crumbly cakes because of the fine texture of the quinoa – next time I might add another egg to bind them together better.
Having said that, these snack cakes are surprisingly delicious! Even my dad, who hates quinoa, made approving noises when trying a piece!