Friday, November 27, 2015

Crockpot Harvest Beef and Barley Stew

I have your new favorite Crockpot dinner ready to go! If you're overwhelmed at the thought of a full 24+ hours of cooking for Thanksgiving, this is a perfect recovery meal (that is better than take-out!)

This Harvest Beef and Barley Stew is the perfect set it and forget it meal that is packed with warm, comforting fall flavors. I love how just a few updates on a classic recipe make this stew feel totally new again!

If you're wondering what exactly makes this a "Harvest" stew, it's really quite simple! I added a couple of small diced sweet potatoes, a few dashes of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, and chopped fresh rosemary. The sweetness of the potatoes and cinnamon pair well with the tang of tomato soup and the saltiness of the beef broth to create glorious soupy balance!

If food were blankets, this stew would be the biggest, warmest, flannel-iest blanket you could imagine!

The recipe as written includes one teeny, tiny extra step that I think truly makes a difference in the depth of flavor - dredging the beef in flour and browning it in a cast iron pan prior to dumping everything in the slow cooker. This step is optional if you are really in a pinch, but if you have the time give this technique a try!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Bread! How good does that sound?!

I am here to assure you that this tastes even better than you can imagine. Two of my favorite quick breads come together for a happy holiday mash-up. This is the perfect make-ahead breakfast for your Thanksgiving day.

I got the idea to search the internet for a banana pumpkin bread when I found myself with a couple of super-ripe bananas, but not enough to make banana bread, and a half-used can of pumpkin puree. If you are anything like me, never fear, this recipe is here for you.

This recipe starts with a banana bread base, but it gets amped up with all the fall flavors that you expect in a pumpkin bread - namely, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Warm and comforting, sweet and satisfying.

And lets not forget the chocolate! Any banana bread or pumpkin bread is infinitely better when you throw in some chocolate chips. For this recipe, I am holding nothing back and adding some deliciously melty chocolate chunks! It is the holidays after all...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chicken, Cheddar and Kale Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

Hiiii, internet!!

Sorry I have been away...for SO long...more than two months with no new recipes! I can't believe it.

Actually, I can! Because during this time away, I was barely keeping my sanity as I was planning a wedding, getting married, and whisking away to Iceland for a honeymoon! November 1, 2015 was the day I married my best friend and became Mrs. Beaudoin. Everything was perfect and magical (sorry to be cliche); nearly two years of planning really paid off!

Of course, now I am in what many people told me would be a post-wedding depression and in an effort to occupy my now-free time, I am 100% ready to start cooking again!

Fall is my favorite time of year for cooking and eating (and drinking pumpkin spice lattes!) I whipped these tasty Chicken, Cheddar, and Kale Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes for a quick lunch this week and I think you're going to love them.

Twice-baked potatoes are especially fun because of how customizable every recipe is. You can easily make these with regular potatoes, or ground turkey, or spinach. They are a perfect light lunch, and they also would make a tasty dinner when paired with a crunchy salad and warm dinner rolls. 

Since sweet potatoes are inherently, well, SWEET, I wanted to pump up the spicy and savory components of the filling. Kale is so loved right now and I love how this sturdy leafy green stands up to the richness of the sweet potato. Plus, any edges of kale get crisped up for a much needed crunch. Chopped green peppers pump up the crunch and give a great freshness to the dish. Cheddar makes everything better, and I used an extra sharp variety for extra flavor. Leftover rotisserie chicken is the perfect protein for the potatoes. Also be sure not to skimp on the black pepper, crushed red pepper and chili powder - flavor explosion!