Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pressure Cooker Beef Stroganoff and Some For Later

We don't eat a lot of red meat but it's fall and getting colder and the leaves are turning.  AND IT'S SUNDAY DINNER.  So I made Beef Stroganoff with egg noodles.  A little bit of an indulgence.
It's comfort food for a cold day.  And it couldn't be easier to make.

I love to cook a roast in chunks in my pressure cooker.  It takes just a portion of the time to cook and I don't have to watch the roast.  If it's hot out, the pressure cooker doesn't heat up my kitchen.

 Here's the link to the original post and recipe that I posted a while back. 

This roast came in a two pack, so after dinner I prepared the second roast for a later meal.

Here's the technique:

Remove all the fat you can from the roast and cut it into large chunks (see the photo above).  Salt and pepper it and put it in the pressure cooker.  Add 10 ounces of canned beef broth, two whole cloves of garlic, 1 sliced yellow onion and one dried bay leaf.
Bring to high pressure and cook for about 60 minutes.  I used a  very lean roast so I cooked it a bit longer than you might for a roast which has more fat.

I let the pressure fall on it's own, then removed the meat and the broth into separate bowls.  Strain the broth and discard the onions, bay leaf and whole garlic cloves.  They were invited to the party to flavor the meat and broth and are tasteless now.

Put the bowls into the refrigerator. As the fat cools it will harden (it takes a few hours).  Remove the fat floating on the top of the broth and discard.  You can see there was still a fair amount even after I trimmed my meat.
Who needs extra fat when the flavor is in the meat and the broth? 
Put the meat into sturdy freezer bags or containers and pour the defatted broth over the meat. Squeeze out the air if using plastic freezer bags.
I add a bit of water if needed to just cover the meat so it won't dry out and taste of "freezer burn".  Be sure to date the container so you use the meat in a timely manner.
Pop the packages into your freezer and you have meat for a quick meal.
Defrost it and use the meat for enchiladas, any type of casserole, even French Dip sandwiches.
My favorite way to use this beef and broth is to make soup with it.  Just add vegetables and simmer.
You'll have soup on the table in fifteen minutes and it tastes like you simmered it all day. Well worth the bit of effort to prepare the meat in advance! 
If I will be using the meat in the next day or so, I pour the broth over the meat just to cover and refrigerate it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Wedding Dresses....and more dresses.

Much of my spare time the last two months has been devoted to sewing dresses; specifically a wedding dress and a bridesmaid dress for Abby and Patrick's wedding.
Abby is my daughters freshman roommate and we've long considered her one of our own.  Patrick really is one of our own...he's an actual cousin. Now Abby is officially part of our family and we couldn't be happier.

This is Abby in her wedding dress just after the ceremony.  Doesn't they look happy? They are such a handsome couple.

Abby fell in love with the fabric and fit of a strapless wedding gown, but she wanted more coverage and she wanted sleeves.  The wedding date was set for late October and the weather turns cool by then so she chose 3/4 length sleeves.

This was the dress she purchased.

Abby's mom was able to acquire extra fabric and lace from the designer so I could build Abby a bodice with sleeves.  I took apart the entire dress; bustier, boning, lining, zipper and both fabrics (lace and underlining).  I fabricated a bodice with neckline and sleeves, took up the hem about 3 inches and put it all back together with tiny satin covered buttons up the back.

We added a satin ribbon and quite a while later,  the dress was done.
Abby was happy and I was happy. I was happy I didn't ruin Abby's wedding day with a dress she didn't like.  It's always a risk remaking an entire (already beautiful, I might add) wedding gown.  I will admit I was relieved when I finished and it was what she had envisioned.
It was a win/win situation.

My daughter Rachel arrived home from a 16 day European trip the day before the wedding. I made her a bridesmaid dress rather quickly.  She's the tall blonde to the left of the bride.

I really loved how her blue lace dress turned out.  More photos to come of Rachel's dress.

The send off was a success. 

Congratulations to the new bride and groom.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bavarian Apple Torte....fall on a plate.

 Bavarian Apple Torte!  The perfect way to use your fall apples.

Bavarian Apple Torte

½ C. butter
1/3 C. granulated sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla
1 C. all-purpose flour

12 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ C. granulated sugar
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla
1/3 C. granulated sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
4 C. apples, peeled and sliced (Granny Smith or other tart apples)
¼ C. almonds, sliced and sauté in butter until golden

Preheat the oven to 450˚ F.

For the crust:  Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Blend in the flour.  Spread the dough onto the bottom and 1 ½” up the sides of a 9” spring form pan. 

For the filling:  Combine the cream cheese and sugar.  Mix well.  Add egg and vanilla.  Mix well and pour into the crust.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon, and then toss with the apples.  Combine well.  Arrange the apple slices in a circular pattern over the cream cheese layer in the pan.  Bake torte for 10 minutes at 450˚F.  Reduce the heat to 400˚ F. and continue baking for 25 more minutes.   Loosen torte from rim of pan.  Sprinkle top with sliced almonds which have been sautéed in butter. 

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Best when served the same day it is made  

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Few Knitt-y things.

 We've had a bit of car time lately and I've been knitting up a storm. B has been nice enough to do all the driving so I can work on projects.
The talented and amazing Julie Williams from Little Cotton Rabbits sent me a free preview pattern for her newest pattern, Mouse girl.  Here's my little mouse in progress to the right of the fox head. The patterns will be available for sale at the end of October.  If you are interested in the Mouse Girl or her Mouse Boy knitting pattern (or both of them), go on over to Julie's blog  or check her out on the Ravelry link above. She also has a generous giveaway for two stuffed toys on her blog right now.  Two winners will win these darling ballerinas.  Go on over and comment.
 You won't want to miss it.
This skein came in the mail a few days ago.  It's Must Stash sock yarn, in the Dark Side of the Moon colorway.  She must be getting bombarded with orders as her store is down until mid November, but I will be purchasing another skein as soon as she has some in the store.  I love this yarn company and the soft wool yarn as well!  The hank comes divided into two perfectly even skeins that start at the same color in the rotation.  You just ball each one separately and start just start knitting; there is no way to mess up the self striping pattern.  Why doesn't everyone sell their yarn like this?  I had my kitchen scale out, ready to divide the hank, and promptly and happily put it aside.
One sock finished and one on the needles.  Christmas present knitting is underway.  I finished the green pair of socks this week as well.  I'm on a roll.

I'm off to sew on a Bridesmaid dress.  
Have a great week.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Few Things...

I've been working on a few things.
The Antler Cardigan in progress.
It's finished now and is waiting to be blocked.
The first sock from my favorite sock method/book by Wendy Johnson was halfway finished when I tried it on.  OOPS!  It was just a little too big around.  So I frogged it, wound it around my I Pad mini, 
wound it into a skein,
 made a hank out of it by tying it off in three places so it wouldn't get all tangled up and immersed it in cold water.
 Into my salad spinner it went.
 Look how much water I was able to spin out of the hank.
I hung it over the sink to dry.  Please ignore my sad, worn out faucet.  It's being replaced next week with a shiny bright new one.  The bath in cold water did the trick.  The kinks are gone and when the hank dries I'll wind it into a ball and re knit the yarn into another project.  I decided to frog the picot edge on the sock as well.  It was just too tight, so I did Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off and the second sock is now well underway.
Abby decided she wanted satin covered buttons up the back of her bridal gown so after making 15 of them, I laid them out and spaced them before hand sewing them to camouflage the invisible zipper..  Her dress is now finished.  I'll post photos of her in it later.

That's what I've been doing the last few weeks.
What's been keeping you busy?