Recipe—Busy Mom’s Beef Wellington

Busy Mom's Beef Wellington

Traditional beef wellington has got to be one of the most glamorous meals ever prepared. It is so rich and attractive but certainly not something you want to be making Monday–Friday. It is a wonderful dish but it is a lot of work! Certainly not in the regular rotation for this busy momma! I saw this recipe the other day for a beef wellington made from ground beef and had to give it a try. It was absolutely delicious! It was relatively easy to throw together and the flavors were very close to that of traditional wellington, just with some added veggies, which are always welcome in our house. This will most certainly be a go to recipe for me from here on out.

Busy Mom's Beef Wellington

Note: Try to dice your veggies so that they are all about the same size. This will help them to cook evenly. This will make two wellington “logs”. Each log will feed 2–3 people. If you don’t think you will eat both, place one prepared and uncooked “log” on a wax paper lined baking sheet and freeze for 2–3 hours. Transfer to an airtight bag or seal o’ meal pouch and freeze for a future dinner. (See Steps below for cooking a frozen one.)

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 potato, cubed
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 portobello mushroom or 5 baby portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 tsp thyme
1 lb ground beef
salt and pepper
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
flour for dusting and rolling
1 egg

STEPS

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, carrot, potato, garlic, mushrooms, and thyme to the skillet and sauté until your vegetables are fork tender and onions are translucent, about 8–10 minutes.
  • Transfer your cooked veggies to a bowl and place in the freezer for 10–15 minutes to cool.
  • While your veggies cool preheat the oven to 350º.
  • Remove the veggies from the freezer and add in the ground beef, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix everything together until well combined. (I recommend just getting in there and using your hands.)
  • Set your meat mixture to the side.
  • Dust a large cutting board with flour and unfold your pastry. Dust the side of the dough facing up with additional flour and roll out to 1/4″ thickness.
  • Divide your meat mixture into two portions and shape one of those portions into a log in the center of the dough.
  • Wrap the dough around the meat “log” like you would a burrito, making sure to tuck in both ends.
  • Place seam side down on a baking sheet.
  • In a small bowl whisk the egg until broken up.
  • Brush the egg wash over the entire outside of the prepared wellington.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes until it is a nice golden brown.
  • Transfer the baked wellington to a cutting board and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Jaime Oliver.

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Recipe—Raspberry Turnovers

Raspberry Turnovers

Over the summer my mom was coming for a visit and I was trying to think of something fun that we could do outside. I decided to take her, my husband, and son berry picking at Patrick’s Mountain Grown Fresh Berry Farm. It was a total blast!

My gorgeous mom and son in the berry field.

My gorgeous mom and son in the berry field.

My little man in the berry field. I think he ate more than he picked.

My little man in the berry field. I think he ate more than he picked.

We ended up picking 12 pounds of delicious raspberries and blackberries.

Twelve pounds of fresh berries ready to be eaten, baked, and canned.

Buckets of fresh berries ready to be eaten, baked, and canned.

Within 24 hours of picking we made raspberry jam, blackberry jam, blackberry ice cream, blackberry cobbler, mixed berry hand pies, and these tasty raspberry turnovers. (Don’t worry, I will eventually get around to sharing all of those fabulous recipes.) We ended up making these for breakfast and oh my goodness were they tasty! The perfect balance of sweet and tart. While it may not be berry season right now, you can most certainly find some at your local market. So please, give these a try. They are the perfect treat for breakfast or dessert.

My little man devouring a raspberry turnover for breakfast.

My little man devouring a raspberry turnover for breakfast.

Note: If you don’t think you will eat these all in one sitting, no need to waste. Just freeze some of them! They freeze great and can easily be baked at a later date. Just place any extra unbaked turnovers on a wax paper lined sheet and freeze for at least an hour. Once they are frozen solid, transfer them to an airtight bag or container. When you are ready to cook them just place them on the parchment paper lined baking sheet for 15–20 minutes and then bake as directed below.

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c flour
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
1/2 c raspberry jam
1 1/4 c fresh raspberries
1 egg
1 tbsp water
2 tsp sugar

STEPS

  • Spread the flour around your work surface and unfold the puff pastry sheets.
  • Cut each sheet into either 4 or 9 squares. It just depends how small or large you want your turnovers.
  • In a small bowl mix together the jam and raspberries.
  • Place an even amount of the raspberry filling in the center of each square of puff pastry.
  • Fold each puff pastry square in half diagonally gently pinching around the edges to seal.
  • Carefully transfer the turnovers to a parchment paper lined baking sheet as you finish them making sure they are at least an inch apart.
  • Using a the prongs of a fork carefully press down along the unfolded edges “crimping the pastry dough.
  • Whisk together the egg and water and brush the egg wash over the top of each turnover.
  • Sprinkle the top of each with a little bit of the sugar.
  • Using a small paring knife cut one slit in the top to help with venting.
  • Place your baking sheet in the freezer for approximately 15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350º while the turnovers are chilling.
  • Once they are finished in the freezer and your oven is preheated bake them until they are a nice golden brown, about 18–20 minutes.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe—Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Any recipe that has bacon, cheese, and jalapeños is a home run in my book. Wrap that up in a flaky delicate layer of puff pastry and it is a grand slam baby! These look like they would be heavy because they are good sized but the puff pastry is actually really light. These are the perfect appetizers for any occasion. The puff pastry takes what is an average appetizer and glamorizes them. Delicate enough for girl’s night in or macho enough for a guy’s night of watching sports. Either way, everyone will love them!

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

INGREDIENTS
9 jalapeños, halved lengthwise, deseeded, and deveined
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
8 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 c bacon, cooked and chopped
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tsp garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 egg
1 tbsp water

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • In a medium-mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, bacon, cheddar cheese, garlic, and some salt and pepper.
  • Stuff each pepper half with a heaping mound of the cheese filling and set aside.
  • Unfold the thawed puff pastry and cut each sheet into 9 squares.
  • Wrap each stuffed pepper in one of the pastry squares and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet as you finish them, making sure they are about an inch apart.
  • Whisk together the egg and water and brush the egg wash over the top of each popper.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the poppers are golden brown on top.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Reclaiming Your Castle.

Recipe—Creamy Chicken Potpies

DivaDiCucina_ChickenPotPies

This year one of the gifts I really wanted for Christmas was a set of large ramekins. I always wanted to make personal potpies, cobblers, and even soufflés. Thanks to my ultra fabulous sister now I can. (Thanks Jess!) With this cold winter weather I knew right away that the first recipe I would be using my new kitchen paraphernalia for had to be chicken potpies. One of my favorite comfort foods!

These creamy chicken potpies turned out to be the best I have ever had! No joke! They were perfect for a cold winter night. My husband, son, and I polished them off.  I like using the pre-cooked rotisserie chicken because it made it a realistic dinner to be able to pull off after a full day of work. The puff pastry is a wonderful change from your typical piecrust. Not only is it super easy to work with but it gives the crust this really great flaky quality that you don’t usually see in a potpie. And the tender chicken with classic veggies smothered in creamy sauce, mmmm… mmmm… mmmm… so good! Give this recipe a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Note: This recipe is written to make four individual pot pies in ramekins but you can also follow the same instructions and make one family size potpie in a large pie dish. Baking time will remain about the same. Also, in place of a rotisserie chicken you can boil 2 chicken breasts for 20 minutes and then cube those up instead.

DivaDiCucina_ChickenPotPies2

INGREDIENTS
1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and chopped
6 tbsp butter, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 c frozen green peas
salt and pepper
4 tbsp flour
1/2 c chicken broth
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 tsp Tabasco
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 sheet frozen puff pasty (I use Pepperidge Farm), at room temperature
1 egg

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • Place your chopped chicken in a large bowl.
  • In a large skillet melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat.
  • Add onions and garlic and cook for 4 minutes.
  • Add carrots, celery, and thyme and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in frozen peas and heat through.
  • Season veggies with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer veggies to the bowl with the chicken.
  • Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and melt over medium-high heat.
  • Stir in the flour and heat for 1 minute mixing constantly.
  • Add the chicken broth and cream and continue stirring constantly until the liquid begins to boil and thicken.
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Remove the creamy mixture from the stove and stir in Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour your creamy sauce into the bowl with the chicken and veggies. Stir to combine.
  • Transfer the potpie mixture to four large ramekins. (Mine are 5” in diameter and they were filled perfectly.)
  • Lay the puff pastry out flat on a cutting board and cut into four even squares.
  • Cut a hole in the middle of each or make a couple of slits. (This allows the steam to escape.)
  • Place the puff pastry squares over the top of each.
  • In a small bowl whisk the egg and then brush over the puff pastry.
  • Transfer the ramekins to a large cookie sheet. (The potpie filling may bubble over so this helps in keeping the oven clean.)
  • Bake until the puff pastry is a golden brown and the filling is nice and bubbly, about 20–25 minutes.
  • Allow finished potpies to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe—Blueberry Cream Cheese Danishes

I have posted a few recipes now that call for puff pastry. As I have said before it is a great ingredient! I always keep it on hand in the freezer because it is incredibly easy to whip up some quick breakfast pastries. Here is a fabulous recipe for blueberry cream cheese danishes. One thing I love about these is that you can prep the rolls the night before, refrigerate them and then when you wake up in the morning all you have to do is slice and bake. Perfect for all the company you will be having over around the holidays!

Note: You can substitute the blueberries and jam for any flavored fruit jam you have on hand. I’m really fond of apricot too.

INGREDIENTS
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp sugar, divided
2 tbsp blueberry jam
1/4 c fresh blueberries, chopped
1 package Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets, room temperature
flour for work surface
1 egg
1 tbsp water

STEPS

  • In a small mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese, butter and 1 tbsp sugar until smooth and creamy.
  • Fold in blueberry jam and blueberries making sure not to over stir.
  • Sprinkle flour on the work surface and unfold puff pastry.
  • Evenly spread a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture over the pastry leaving one edge exposed about an inch back.
  • Starting at the edge opposite from the exposed edge roll up like a jelly roll.
  • Wrap your roll in saran wrap and chill in freezer for an hour or fridge for a couple of hours. (This will make it easier to slice through.)
  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Beat the egg and water together in a small bowl.
  • Remove the saran wrap and cut roll into 1/2” slices.
  • Place the slices cut side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Brush the top of each spiral with the egg wash and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  • Bake for 14–16 minutes or until just starting to turn a golden brown.
  • Remove the spirals from the baking sheet and allow to cool.

Recipe—Puff Pastry Spirals

Puff pastry has got to be one of my favorite ingredients to work with. It is so incredibly versatile and is a must have item in my freezer at all times. This recipe is a great one to keep in mind when you need an appetizer that can be made ahead of time. Serve them warm or at room temperature. You really can make these with almost any combination of ingredients but these are my favorite. Both combinations are classic flavors, spinach with feta and ham with swiss. These can be prepared a day ahead of time and kept wrapped up in the fridge until you are ready to bake them. I have made these not only as an appetizer but also as a side dish for brunch. I personally love to serve them with champagne. Yummy!

Note: Be sure to remove as much liquid as you can from the spinach before adding it to the pastry otherwise it may make the pastry soggy.

SPINACH AND FETA SPIRAL INGREDIENTS
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 c feta
1/4 c yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 sheet Pepperidge Farm puff pastry (1/2 package)
flour for work surface
1 egg
1 tbsp water

STEPS

  • Stir together the spinach, feta, yellow onion, olive oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
  • Sprinkle flour on the work surface and unfold puff pastry.
  • Top puff pastry with the spinach mixture and evenly spread it out leaving one edge exposed about an inch back.
  • Starting at the edge opposite from the exposed edge roll up like a jelly roll.
  • Wrap your roll in saran wrap and chill in freezer for an hour or fridge for a couple of hours. (This will make it easier to slice through.)
  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Beat the egg and water together in a small bowl.
  • Remove the saran wrap and cut roll into 1/4″–1/2” slices.
  • Place the slices cut side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Brush the top of each spiral with the egg wash.
  • Bake for 15–20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove the spirals from the baking sheet and allow to cool.

HAM AND SWISS SPIRAL INGREDIENTS
1 lb of thin sliced ham
1 c shredded swiss
1 sheet Pepperidge Farm puff pastry (1/2 package)
flour for work surface
1 egg
1 tbsp water

STEPS

  • Sprinkle flour on the work surface and unfold puff pastry.
  • Top puff pastry with an even layer of the ham and then sprinkle with cheese leaving one edge exposed about an inch back.
  • Starting at the edge opposite from the exposed edge roll up like a jelly roll.
  • Wrap your roll in saran wrap and chill in freezer for an hour or fridge for a couple of hours. (This will make it easier to slice through.)
  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Beat the egg and water together in a small bowl.
  • Remove the saran wrap and cut roll into 1/4″–1/2” slices.
  • Place the slices cut side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Brush the top of each spiral with the egg wash.
  • Bake for 15–20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove the spirals from the baking sheet and allow to cool.

Recipe—Asparagus Gruyére Tart

Since asparagus is plentiful at the market right now I thought I would post a simple, yet elegant asparagus recipe that will excite your palate. The final product looks impressive and tastes just as good. This asparagus tart is perfect as an appetizer or a side dish with brunch. You really can’t go wrong serving it warm or cold. It is very easy to make and requires hardly any prep time at all. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 c Gruyére cheese, shredded
1 bundle thin asparagus spears
olive oil
lemon pepper
sea salt

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle and trim uneven edges.
  • Carefully move the pastry to a baking sheet.
  • Using a knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to give it a border. This is identifies the boundary you will put your cheese and asparagus in.
  • Using a fork, poke the dough inside the rectangle at 1/2-inch intervals.
  • Bake pastry until golden, about 15 minutes.
  • While the pastry is baking, trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell.
  • In a large bowl toss the asparagus with olive oil, lemon pepper, and salt.
  • Remove pastry shell from oven. (If your pastry swells up lay a clean kitchen towel over the top and gently press down until it is about a 1/2” tall.)
  • Evenly sprinkle with the shredded Gruyére.
  • Arrange the asparagus in a single layer over Gruyére, alternating ends and tips.
  • Bake until spears are tender, approximately 15–20 minutes.
  • Allow to cool and then cut into squares using a pizza cutter.

For some great information about asparagus check out a previous post of mine here: https://divadicucina.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/kitchen-tip-asparagus/