Hearty Beef Stew with Beets and Carrots

New England winters are cold, snowy, and harsh! I love to embrace the weather with old fashioned stick to your bones, comfort food; my remedy for enjoying the winter season. My beef stew is a twist on the traditional recipe, I add beets instead of potatoes. Beets are full of nutritional value and add a deep red color to the stew. If beets aren't to your liking you can substitute potatoes. I suggest you give it a try first. Beef tenderloin, so flavorful, adds a company worthy touch to this stew. As an accompaniment to the stew I toss a beautiful salad( I like arugula)*, add fresh baked bread and a bottle rich red wine for a elegant, easy company dinner. I set my table an eclectic assortment of dishes and glasses, light tapered and votive candles, dim the dinning room chandelier and build a roaring fire. Then I can sit and enjoy entertaining friends for dinner rather spending time in the kitchen. The stew can be made a day ahead and gently warmed before serving.   

2 pounds beef tend…

Hearty Lentil Soup

New Year's resolutions always include losing weight and eating healthy. Lentil soup is low calorie and high in fiber; both important for keeping your resolutions. I like to add garbanzo beans for extra protein and roughage. If you’f like a more spicy version add a tablespoon of hot sauce.
2 teaspoons olive oil 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped (1 1⁄2 cups) 2 celery stalks, finely chopped (1⁄2 cup)  3 large garlic cloves, minced (1 1⁄2 Tbsp.)  2 teaspoon ground cumin  1 cup baby carrots, sliced 1 package (15.5 oz) dried brown lentils  1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained 8 cups lower-sodium vegetable broth  1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained  2 teaspoons kosher salt  1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Directions Put oil in a large Dutch oven heat medium-high. Add onion, celery, and garlic to Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cumin, and cook, stirring constantly, until toasted, about 1 minute. Stir in carrots, lentils, garbanzo beans, bro…

New Year's Eve Appetizers

Looking for some casual New Year's Eve Appetizers for an easy celebration with no fuss yet so tasty to your family and friends will just love; I have a few suggestions for you. Both my  Baked Brie with Olive Tapenade and Baked Artichoke are perfect for any celebration. I usually purchase hummus, tabbouleh and tzatziki , cut up some carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers and serve for a array of snacks. Then we open some bubbly and ring in the New Year!

Purchased puff pastry is so easy to use with wonderful professional result that anyone even a beginning cook can wow their guests. I like to make different spreads for my baked brie, sometimes sweet and sometimes savory. If you love olives this is your baked brie. You can either make your own olive tapenade, you can find the recipe below or save time by purchasing store made tapenade. Decorate with slice olives creating a delicious tasting, easy, appetizer.

Baked Brie with Olive Tapenade 

1/2 package of frozen puff pastry (one sheet)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Cranberries

If you read my blog by now you know that I am obsessed with cranberries. As soon of these red jewels  come to market I start to cook and bake everything with cranberries. 

2 tablespoon butter2 small shallots, chopped (about 1⁄4 cup)2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 garlic cloves)3 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar3 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, halved (about 10 cups) or petite Brussels, whole2 tablespoons olive oil1 teaspoon kosher salt1/2 teaspoons black pepper1 cup fresh cranberries
Step 1 Melt large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, and cook, stirring often, until shallots are softened and start to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, and cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Add vinegar, and cook until thick and syrupy, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour into a small microwavable bowl. Cool to room temperature, cover, and chill until ready to use, up to 1 day ahead. Step 2 Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of …

Chocolate Cake with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Cake with Peppermint Crean Cheese Frosting
Peppermint reminds me of old fashioned Christmases when I would find a big candy cane in my stocking which I would savor for weeks! I love the combination of chocolate, cream cheese and peppermint in this cake. As I take a bite the cool peppermint cream cheese frosting combines with the chocolate cake for an irresistible tempting dessert that will be the star of any Holiday meal. 
Ingredients .2 cups sugar .2 cups all-purpose flour .¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder .1 teaspoon kosher salt .1 teaspoon baking powder .1 teaspoon baking soda .1 cup buttermilk .½ cup vegetable oil .2 large eggs, lightly beaten .1½ teaspoons vanilla extract .1 cup hot water .Peppermint Frosting (recipe follows) .Garnish:  Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses and crushed candy canes
Instructions 1.Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with baking spray. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper, and spray again. 2.In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa powde…

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

A good bowel of hot soup on a cold winter day, what better way celebrate the Winter Solstice. Add a crisp salad, fresh bread and a glass of wine perfect for celebrating the changing rotation of the earth. I always felt there was something mystical about a solstice reminding me four times a year that the earth and life are transient, ever changing and by embracing this fact life is perfectly imperfect.  My recipe for Butternut Squash soup with a touch of apple captures the essence of the winter season with just a touch of aromatic spices that don't overpower the squash and apple. I use store purchased cut and cleaned butternut squash when I make a small batch of soup; making the work and clean up easier.
INGREDIENTS 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)1 celery rib, chopped (about 3/4 cup)1 carrot, chopped (about 3/4 cup)2 Tbsp butter1 package(20 oz.) butternut squash1 tart granny smith apple, peeled, cored, chopped3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon1/8 teaspoon nutmeg1…

Poppy Seed Bread

Another recipe from my childhood Christmases, Poppy Seed Bread.  My mother was raised in a neighborhood inhabited with many different ethic groups. She learned from her Polish neighbors to make Eastern European style pastries which she incorporated into her holiday baking. Making her old holiday pastries transports me again to a time when I learned the magic of Christmas which still lives with me to this day!
Poppy Seed Bread
2 cups whole milk 2 packages yeast 2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup sugar 2 eggs, slightly beaten 1/2 cup shortening (Crisco) 7 to 7 1/2 cups sifted all purposed flour 4 tablespoon butter 2 cans Poppy seed pastry filling(Solo) 1 cup chopped pecansa 1 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 375F. Heat milk until tiring bubbles form, 2-3 minutes. Put 1/4 cup of hot milk in small bowl, let cool to lukewarm. Add yeast, let dissolve for 5 minutes. In a large bowl add remaining milk and cool. Stir in salt, sugar, shortening and eggs. Next add dissolved yeast then on low beat in half of flour gra…