Thursday, February 26, 2009

Juicy Oven Roast Beef with Potatoes and Carrots

Doesn't it drive you crazy when you KNOW you put two socks in the laundry basket? You KNOW you washed two socks and you KNOW you put two socks in the drier and yet only one sock emerges. Where does the former partner go? And what do you do with the remaining sock? How long do you hang on before you chuck it?
Well, now I have new LOST items to make me loopy: Pictures of my beautiful pot roast. A couple weeks ago when I made this, I saved a couple of pics right into this file. And now, after a fitful hour or searching, I'm determined that somehow the partner pictures have escaped from my computer, planned a get away with a couple of run away socks and are now sipping virgin Margaritas somewhere near the equator. These things just can't be avoided, and I certainly don't blame myself. Hopefully they'll be a little happier in the new life that they've chosen, even though the rest of us are left behind to pick up the pieces
So here you have my only two shots of my pot roast. I adore making pot roast on Sunday since I can pop it in the oven for the entire 3 hours that we are gone at Church. My family always seems to be hungriest on Sundays after church, so food must be ready immediately to prevent sudden starvation. ( I have a theory that spiritual fulness depletes food reserves in belly; it's very academic and I'll be sure to share it in some other post.) There will be plenty of food to share, so invite another family to join you for dinner. And if you snap a few pictures and some get away, don't say I didn't warn you. Just try to be happy for them.
Money Saving Tips:

Many markets have two-for-one sales on pot roasts and luckily they freeze beautifully. Otherwise, it's reasonable to pay around $11 for a nice roast for a memorable Sunday dinner and fantastic leftovers too.
Oven Baked Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots
Estimated Cost: $15.00 for 8-10 servings
Notes: I use loads more veggies-so feel free to double-if you love them like I do.
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 cup flour
1 3 lb. pot roast (chuck, rump, etc.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 (14 ounce) cans beef broth
1 8 ounce can V8 or tomato sauce
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar (I like red wine, balsamic, or cider)
6-8 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1 lb. bag baby carrots (I halve them lengthwise, but it isn't necessary)
chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a roasting pan over medium high heat, preheat oil. Coat pot roast with flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown pot roast on all sides. Add garlic and onions to pan when pot roast is almost finished; stirring vegetables to keep them from browning. Pour in beef broth, V8, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, and vinegar. Ideally you will cover tightly with foil and bake for two hours, uncover and add potatoes and carrots and bake another hour. HOWEVER-I often put the potatoes and carrots right in from the beginning, reduce the heat to 300 and bake the whole thing for 3 hours, covered tightly with foil. Sprinkle with fresh parsley just before serving.
Next Up:
From Scratch Thrifty Cowboy Beans in the Crockpot

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The 4 day History of a Cookie

It's Tuesday and that means sweets and treats with my weekly baking club, Tuesdays with Dorie. This week's assignment: Caramel Crunch Bars

Day one:
I make the first half batch of brown sugar shortbread bespeckled with chunks of hershey bar. (I'm still trying to use up our extra Hershey bars from last summers s'more roasting family party-Im down to 3 cases. How's that for healthy food storage?) The dough is fantastic, caramely and buttery. After they come out of the oven, they get another coating of Hershey bar and a sprinkle of toffee. I plan to make them into ice cream bars, as Dorie suggests. Instead, they never even get properly sliced. We eat them straight out of the pan. I snap a few shots and join in.
Day Two:
So enchanted were we with those caramely shortbread cookies, that I decide to make another half batch. But this time, I make it without a slick of chocolate and toffee, and hopefully with some ice cream. Hooray! The cookie base is stellar on it's own. So stellar, ahem, that they never get sliced and suffer the same fate as yesterday's cookie. I'm lucky I got a shot at all.
Day Three:
My sister and mom have been listening to me rave about these brown sugar cookies, but I haven't been able to offer them even a crumb. This time, out of pure kindness and not a whit of selfish desires, I bake a full batch to share. We slice exactly two long rows of cookies, place them on a Valentine's paper plate and hand them over to the ladies. They love them as much as we do. We polish off the rest ourselves.
Day Four:
I watch the Oscar highlights (gorgeous anemic women in gorgeous skimpy clothing) on the Internet. I wonder if I ought to lay off the cookies. I pop by my mom's house and notice she has one cookie bar left. I wonder if I'll need to wear a gown anytime soon. Since I won't have to, I decide to eat the final cookie. The end.
Money Saving Tips:
This would be a great place to use up some of your Valentine Hershey kisses of chocolates, chopped into irregular pieces. Make sure to use good quality butter, since the flavor comes through loud and clear. Consumer Reports recommended Albertson's butter a few years back. If you've got an Albertson's near you, you can get butter for between $2.00 and $2.50 a pound most of the time.
Caramel Shorbread Bars they way I like them
Estimated Cost: $2.00 for a half batch
Notes: I like these without vanilla, so the brown sugar flavor really comes through.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 regular sized Hershey bar, chopped into chunks
Preheat oven to 375. Line an 8 by 8 inch baking sheet with foil. Coat the foil with no stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine butter and sugars until creamy. Add in salt and flour; blend well and add chocolate. Press into prepared pan. Bake for about 20-23 minutes, or until golden brown at edges and bubbly in center. Try to slice them if you can.
Coming Next:
The Juicy Oven Roast Beef with Potatoes and Carrots (cross my heart)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oscar Worthy Snack Picks

Oh, Oscar! I almost forgot about you. No not you, Oscar. I'd never forget about you, darling. The other Oscar. You snuck up on me! Hey, I've got to run to the market for some last minute Oscar watching supplies- important crucial, essential supplies, like Food. Food. We can't sit around eating loaves of farm country wheat bread while we're watching all of the terribly talented, deeply gorgeous, supremely humble, beautifully paid actors. Actually, a few minutes of the red carpet routine is all I can really handle. (Just once, I'd like to see an actress on the red carpet look straight at the camera, not sideways, not backwards not tilt-a-whirl, just dead on. ) I'll probably just munch on my Oscar snacks and catch the highlights on the Internet. It's about 5.3 million hours shorter that way.

Here's our Oscar Best Picture themed snacks, and we'll try not to spill any on the keyboard. If you can think of a better snack for movie number five, let me know. We're all still racking our brains over here....
1. Special Dark Knight
2. The Curiously Strong Mint Case of Benjamin Bunny-oops I mean Button. Sheesh! I haven't seen the movie yet but I do spend an unhealthy amount of time with my nose in juvenile literature of the Beatrix Potter ilk.
3. Frosted Flakes/Nixon
4. Milk Duds
5. Smarties for The Reader Next up: Oven Roast Beef with Carrots and Potatoes
And After That: The Best Caramel Crunch Bars- We're on the second batch in as many days....

Friday, February 20, 2009

Farm-Country Multi Grain Bread

Maybe it's because I spent last week in Grandpa Bud's farm country, with nothing but peacefully frozen fields to rest the eye upon. Maybe it's because my stock of groceries was pitifully low when I came home, and short of starvation, I just can't make myself shop until the suitcases are unpacked. Maybe it's because our long drive read-aloud was Laura Ingalls Wilder's "The Long Winter," in which the Ingalls family survived a season of Dakota blizzards on loaf after loaf of wheat bread. Maybe it's because the making and kneading of bread is calming, steadying and even nostalgic. And maybe for all of these things it was important to bake bread today. A good, hearty, honest loaf of multi grain bread. The first loaf won't last long, of course, but will be gobbled up warm with slathers of creamy butter, jam, and honey. But the second loaf has potential for a truly memorable bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. And if I can ever get those suitcases unpacked and make it to the grocery store, that's what we'll be having for dinner. But if not, we'll read books by the fireplace, pretend we're the Ingalls family and eat some more buttered bread on this long winter night.

Money Saving Tips:
A hearty loaf of homemade bread is pretty inexpensive to make, but make sure you invest in good quality yeast. My favorite is SAF, but if it's unavailable in your area, ask your local bakery which yeast they use. They may even let you buy some of theirs. (That's how I started using SAF.) Whatever yeast you use, be sure that the liquids in the recipe are only BABY BOTTLE WARM-NOT HOT. If you ever happen to make a loaf of bread that doesn't rise, you can proof some more yeast in a bowl, mix it into the unrisen bread dough and give it another chance.
Farm Country Multi Grain Loaves
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Estimated Cost: $3.50 for two loaves
2 cups milk
1 cup old fashioned oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 eggs
1/2 cup wheat germ (or substitute whole wheat flour)
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more if needed
extra butter
Heat milk in microwave until just boiling. Pour into free standing mixer bowl (or into large bowl to mix and knead by hand). Add oatmeal, sugar, butter, and salt. Mix well and cool to luke warm, about 15 minutes. Add yeast, eggs, wheat germ and whole wheat flour. With mixer on low, add in remaining all purpose flour. Knead on medium for 6 minutes. If dough is still sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until dough pulls away from edges of bowl. Shape dough into large ball and using your hands, rub the outside of the dough with butter. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 and 1/2 hours. Shape dough into two loaves and place in two nine inch loaf pans. Let rise again, covered with plastic wrap, until doubled, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake about 1 hour.
Thanks for all of your kind comments of late, dear readers! I wish I could drop a loaf of bread on your front doorsteps.
Next Up:
Sunday Afternoon Juicy Roast Beef with Potatoes and Carrots

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

South Dakota

Isn't it suprising how lighthearted a funeral can actually be? One moment, you are dabbing a hankie to your eye, and the next you are musing, visiting, even chuckling. There was music: a sweet little tune sung by the great grand children, a violin piece by my two charges with me on the piano (shaking fingers, of course), and a beautiful duet by two cousins. And there were plenty of stories to share about Grandpa Bud. Lots of the stories told how much he adored Grandma Libbie and how he died seven years to the day after her. Others told about his kindness, his character, his sense of humor, his strength, and his courage. I hadn't know that he was so fearless around rattlesnakes. He'd kill them with hoes, tire irons, rocks or even the cowboy boots on his feet. In my book, that makes him even braver than Indiana Jones. And it's important that a certain little boy and a certain little girl know that about him, too. Because someday it will be there turn to tell some other little boy and some other little girl about their great great Grandpa Bud. And this is why you make a 20 hour drive through ice and snow to go to South Dakota. It isn't so much for the funeral, per se. It's so that you can see your Grandpa Bud's once thriving farmand the land that he loved. And you can meet cousins that you never knew you had, and form friendships that are thicker than water.So you can hear the stories that are meant to live on. So you can remember that those that went before you worked hard to make life better for you. And they did that because they loved you.
Up Next:
Farm Country Multi Grain Loaves

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine X-O Cupcakes

Happy Valentine's Day to all of my lovely readers. I hope your day is filled with romantic, fraternal, puppy, friendly, sisterly, motherly, fatherly, platonic, or whatever kind of love that makes your heart sing. I'm filled with bloggerly love. Even though I'm here in South Dakota (see previous post) for Grandpa Bud's funeral, it fills me with pink and red warm fuzzies to share my recipes and my musings about real life right here on Prudence Pennywise. Thanks for reading and coming back and for making my recipes. Here's wishing much love and all of life's candy coated sweetness to all of you!

If it's not too late, here's some cute little cupcakes. I used a chocolate cupcake recipe (still not perfect-working on a getting it right to share) frosted with cream cheese icing. What makes them so cute, is the sprinkling of sugar. Hold a cookie cutter over the iced cakes and sprinkle inside the lines. I got my X-O cookie cutters from the dollar store. Swing by and pick some up. Or stay home and just look at the pictures. Either way...
Best wishes for a Happy Valentine Day to all.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fresh Ricotta with Roasted Red Pepper Hearts Crostini

Greetings from wintery Pierre, South Dakota. Last week I had no idea I would be here. Like I was saying, this weekend on Valentine's Day, my sister Laurie is marrying her high school sweetheart in sunny California. Our sunglasses and bathing suits were packed and our hotel reservations were made. But then on Saturday morning, a phone call changed everything.

Grandpa. It wasn't too many months ago that we'd dashed up to visit the comeback kid in the hospital. But this time, it was the right time. If he would have known he was dying, he wouldn't have let it happen. But he drifted quietly and peacefully away in his sleep, unaware that at 92, he wasn't fighting anymore. And suddenly, it seemed very important to me that my children understand who Grandpa Bud really was. They had never seen his South Dakota farm, or heard the stories of how he had settled the land. How he was a true cowboy with hundreds of cattle to prove it. How he could fiddle and call auctions. How every tree on his property was planted by him. How he never had a fight with Grandma Boots. How he drove his children to the oneroom school house with a horse and sleigh. How he injured his hand by falling down the well during a blizzard. How he was still stronger than an all of us, one-handed. How he never complained, but was quick to share a poem, a song or a joke. How his blue eyes twinkled. And how he loved them and always had a tear in the corner of his eye when we said good bye.
Suddenly it seemed like being here, in frozen South Dakota for a Valentine's Day funeral, would help them to understand all of that. Oh the contrasts! We are not sad that he is gone, but then again, we will miss him. And I'm grateful we can be here, but then again I'm sorry to miss my sister's marriage and the celebration of Valentine's Day, too. I did pack up some Valentine party supplies and surprises for the little charges. We can still celebrate on a small hotel-ish scale. The death of a loved one is always a reminder to make every minute count, especially the time spent with family.
I really did have some lovely food planned for you, dear readers. This year I was thinking of Valentine's spaghetti and meatballs, with Lady and the Tramp and Moonstruck in the background. We'll just have to slurp the noodles together when I get back.
For today, I'll share my fresh ricotta on toasted baguette with sweet little hearts made from roasted red pepper. Making fresh ricotta is plain old easy-peasy and inexpensive, too.
While in Italy, we had loads of fresh ricotta spread on bread and it's just magical when it's plain and fresh.
Money Saving Tips:
Make fresh ricotta when milk is on sale. It takes a lot of milk to make a little ricotta. I've made ricotta with whole milk, 2 percent, and a combo of milk and cream. It's all delicious, but the fattier ingredients will make it creamier.
Easy Fresh Ricotta (1/2 cup)
1 and 3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a small saucepan, bring milk and cream to a simmer. Add lemon juice and salt. Simmer until curds form, about 1 or 2 minutes. Line a bowl with cheesecloth. Pour ricotta over cloth; drain very very briefly. Put ricotta curds in bowl. Pour a couple of tablespoons liquid back over ricotta. Refrigerate. Stir before using and adjust salt, if needed.
For the Appetizer, cut hearts out of roasted red peppers. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar around the plate. Easy!
Up Next:
X-O-X-O Cupcakes for Valentine's Day

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Floating Islands in Raspberry Creme Anglaise for Valentine's Day

Welcome to Tuesdays with Dorie, my weekly baking club. Today's assignment: Floating Islands. But first....

They say that second marriages are the triumph of hope over experience. And this weekend, on the day dedicated to love my oldest sister Laurie is exercising that buoyant hope and tying the knot. After a heart breaking divorce, Laurie rekindled some love in the form of an old high school boyfriend from 25 years ago. Want to see their groovy prom picture? I haven't seen him since then, and I was only a kid, but I still remember that he was nice. And it isn't easy to be nice to a passel of obnoxious little brothers and sisters.
Best of all is the happiness that Cupid has brought. Laurie's happy, Mark's happy, and all of us obnoxious little sisters and brothers are happy. Weddings are the best kind of family party, and with Laurie's knack for planning, this one will be a happy and hopeful hoot. Everyone of my brothers and sisters and my-side-of-the-family nieces and nephews will be in attendance..
And that included me and my eager charges. Until this weekend when we had a drastic change of plans. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.
For now I'll tell you about this gorgeous dessert: Floating Islands in Raspberry Creme Anglaise. I had Floating Islands (Leche Nevada) on a weekly basis when I spent a year in Chile. The Chilean women were adept at pinching a penny and making spectacular desserts out of a handful of ingredients. This dessert won't cost you more than $2.00 for the six servings. It doesn't take much: some eggs, milk, sugar, and hopefully some vanilla. (I used a bit of raspberry syrup to tint mine pink for Valentine's Day.) The Quiet Man loved it. But for me, the truth about this beauty is that it is more fun to stand back and look at than to actually eat. It's not un-delicious exactly, it's just so very fluffy and creamy and when I'm done I wish I had a slice of chocolate cake. I'm cursed that way, with that chocolate-cake-wistful-remorse curse.
Find the recipe and gorgeous photos here.
Up Next: Spaghetti and Meatballs for Valentine's Day

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dijon Beef Stroganoff-Penny Pinching Style

I'm a little reluctant to post this dinner because, well, it doesn't look pretty. But shouldn't it still be invited to the dance? It has other charms, cross my heart. What it lacks in good looks, it makes up for in inner beauty: Think hearty beef and mushrooms in a creamy sour cream sauce made extra savory with dijon mustard. And it's easy on the pocketbook too. Normally beef stroganoff is made with the most supple cuts of fillet mignon. My Miss Congeniality stroganoff is made from humble stew meat, made lovingly tender by a long simmer. (If you're around the house you can simmer it in on the stovetop; if you'll be away, the crockpot works just as well. ) See, it's a cheap date, fun, and full of tender loving kindness.

And, ahem, contributing to dinner's unassuming appearance: that pile of timid lima beans. An explanation: my boy charge had a science experiment involving four lima beans this week. Unless you are like Jack in the Beanstalk, you will not have four beans lying around the house, and you will have to buy the whole bag of limas. And then what will you do? So after we scientifically identified the cotyledon, future plant, and seed coat we cooked up the rest and ate them alongside our bashful stroganoff. And the charges ate them too. Whaddya know? Maybe next we should do a science experiment with brussel sprouts....
Have a great weekend!
Money Saving Tips:
Stew meat is a great way to savor tender beef on a budget. Stroganoff is traditionally served over egg noodles, but you could use pasta, couscous, or brown rice, as I've done. Button, cremini, or portabello mushrooms would work well here, so choose whichever one you can find the cheapest this week.
Dijon Beef Stroganoff-Penny Pinching Style
Estimated Cost: $7.00 for four hearty servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 lb. stew meat, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups beef broth
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoon dijon mustard (my favorite is horseradish Dijon)
rice or noodles, for serving
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about four minutes. Add the beef and sprinkle over the flour. Cook, stirring until nicely browned. Add garlic, mushrooms, and thyme. Saute for 2 minutes. Stir in beef broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. (The mixture can be transferred to a crock pot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours-or longer if you'll be away.) Just before serving, stir in the sour cream and dijon. DO NOT BOIL. Warm through and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over rice or noodles.
Up Next:
Getting Started with Valentine's Day Dinner

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

World Peace Cookies

It's Tuesday-time for my weekly baking assignment with TWD. Click here for more information. Today's tasty task: World Peace Cookies

Someone once told Dorie Greenspan that a daily dose of these cookies would "ensure planetary peace and happiness." It seems we are running a little short of those two things right about now, and such sweet treats as these ought to come in handy.
A quick glance over the ingredient list told me that the chocolatey cookies had no eggs, which at my house means unlimited access to the cookie dough. I felt the warmth of fraternity and good will starting to spread already.
The cookies come together in a snap, just one bowl, if you cheat with the dry ingredients like I always do. (Trust me, World Peace is easier to come by when there are less dishes to wash.) The only thorn in the rose is that the dough must be chilled for at least three hours. I usually fudge a little there too, but since I was aiming for global harmony and I could nosh on the raw dough, I tried to restrain myself.
And the baked cookies? Well, I can't really answer for World Peace and Happiness, but I can answer for Domestic Peace and Happiness: The cookies proved true to their name. It's impossible to have a row with these fabulous gems in hand. Now if only Dorie could come up with a Peace and Quiet Cookie. We really could use those around here.
For my fellow penny pinchers, a half batch of 18 cookies will cost you about $2.00, if you use the mini chocolate chips. I wish I'd made a full batch, since these could be your slice and bake afternoon peaceful treat. Click here for the recipe.
Up Next:
Dijon Beef Stroganoff

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Twice Baked Potato Appetizers

This is my brother-in law Adam and my littlest sister Mary Kate. (Aren't they cute? And they're nice, too. To know them is to love them.) Adam is living every man's dream today at the Super Bowl, having won a trip at work. It was probably a most popular or best personality or most likely to make everyone love you any contest. But Adam says it was something to do with sales, or some other something that I don't know anything about. Congratulations for whatever it was, Adam, you lucky dog. I was planning to make the five hour drive to visit the lonesome but ever charming Mary Kate for the weekend. (If it had been a cutest couple contest then she could have gone too.) We were going to have our own Super Exciting Unbelievably Thrilling Super Bowl party. A Super Exciting Unbelievably Thrilling food Super Bowl Party, not a Super Exciting Unbelievably Thrilling football Super Bowl party. Except last weekend I got sick with the flu, and while I was moaning on the couch, I started to notice my unmopped floors, the dust on the ceiling fan, my stack of ungraded papers dating back to 1987, and the sprig of holly on the cuckoo clock, and the Star Wars figurines under the ottoman, and the overdue library books, and the 172 Polly Pocket shoes and accesories in the couch crevasses, and I started to moan some more and went back to bed. And I decided to stay home for the weekend and work, which I don't like to make a habit of. So now poor Mary Kate is forced to have her own lonesome Super Exciting Unbelievably Thrilling food Super Bowl party. Alone, with her four children under the age of 9. And if that doesn't make for Super Exciting Unbelievable Thrills, then I don't know what does. The food had better be good.

Here's something to get the party started, Mary Kate! I know you'll love it and I promise to come for a visit soon!
For my fellow penny pinchers, there's hardly an appetizer in the world that will ring in cheaper than the humble potato. Depending on what you put inside, you could potentially spend less than $5.00 for a hearty scrumptious dozen.
Bake the potatoes until tender, about 1 hour at 375.
When cool enough to handle, halve them and scoop out about 2/3 of the insides. Place the potato flesh in a bowl, and mix it up with what you like. Some should be plain, with cheddar cheese, sour cream, butter, cream cheese, salt and pepper. Others might have a pinch of curry, chopped broccoli, green onions, cheddar and swiss cheese, and sour cream. My husband's favorite is chili-seasoned ground meat, cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream. Put them back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, or until hot and melty.
Now, give them a garnish that offers a clue to what's inside the potato. Some people would rather die than unexpectedly bit into some broccoli. Three of those people live at my house. So it's best to give them fair warning with a visible florette.
Up Next:
World Peace Cookies