Goulash, like the good ol’ days…

I grew up in a little river town, in southeastern Minnesota…at least for the years of my life I remember anyway.  I was born in Iowa and lived there until I was starting Junior High School…

This dish, has all the feels for me…I remember crowding around a little table, in the middle of a tiny kitchen that also served as the back entrance of the home, with my boyfriend (at the time-I think I was in 10th or 11th grade…), and his two other brothers, sometimes their girlfriends, and their ever-patient and wonderful Mom, who made this for all of us.  I remember eating so much of it, and the buttered white bread on the side, along with big glasses of cold milk, until I felt like my stomach was going to burst! Ahh…this was some good stuff!  When I stumbled across this recipe, on one of my favorite food-blogger’s YouTube channel, I thought, “no way, this can’t be the same recipe?!’ and lo and behold, it was! I literally could have eaten the WHOLE POT! 😂 I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

Makes enough for “at least” four BIG bowls…
Adapted from THIS recipe…

Olive oil-(just enough to sprinkle in the bottom of your pan)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 & 1/2-2 pounds ground beef
4 cloves garlic minced
2 generous teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
Cayenne pepper if you want…
2 teaspoons regular paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika (taste at this point, add more if you want)
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs (blend of oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, parley, basil)
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken broth (or you can use plain water)
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used the fire-roasted kind!)
1 (24-ounce) jar prepared marinara (I used spaghetti sauce) sauce, rinsed with 1 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce (DON’T skip this!)
2 rounded cups elbow macaroni
1 packed cup shredded white cheddar cheese & freshly chopped Italian parsley, as a garnish

Preheat a stock pot on the stove to high…add olive oil and onions. Saute for a minute or two, getting it good and hot. Add in ground beef and using a wooden spoon or similar, chop up the meat as best you can. Continue cooking the meat until all of the liquid has evaporated and the meat is cooked thru. Add in the garlic and stir to cook. Then add in all your spices, including the salt & pepper, but waiting on the bay leaves. Cook until you really smell all those spices “blooming” in the pan. Then add in your broth or water…diced tomatoes and Marinara sauce. Then add the soy sauce…as Chef John says, don’t be tempted to use Worcestershire sauce…trust me on the soy sauce. Let this mixture bubble away on the stove on medium, for at least 20 minutes if you can.

Add in your macaroni noodles and stir frequently, (or they’ll stick to the bottom of the pan!) until the noodles have cooked and the sauce has thickened. Add in the fresh chopped Parsley and once in your serving bowls, top with shredded cheese & parsley, if desired.

Serve with a loaf of sliced white bread and REAL salted Butter! 😍

Enjoy friends! 💗

 

 

 

Zucchini Coconut Bread~

One of my favorite times of the Summer is when the Zucchini harvest is in full effect…grilled, frittered, put into bread & brownies etc. etc. I love it!  I found this recipe at Two Peas and their Pod, just randomly one day, looking for coconut recipes.  The original recipe calls for AP and whole wheat flour, but I have always made it with straight AP flour. I also have used Vanilla whole milk yogurt and once used Coconut (full fat) Cream as well. Also, you’ll see Coconut Oil in the ingredient list; do yourself a favor and buy a jar.  I use it for many different things…homemade granola…sautéing beef & chicken & pork…tossing Sweet Potatoes in it before baking or putting on the grill.  But ya gotta like Coconut…of course!

Zucchini Coconut Bread

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 & 1/2 cups shredded Zucchini (squeezed and drained into a few paper towels)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup Coconut Oil, melted

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or see note above) at room temperature

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

1 cup of sweetened coconut

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan (you could do mini loafs or muffins too!) and set it aside.  Note:  I use the coconut oil to grease my pan, but just make sure you use enough.

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine Zucchini, sugars, coconut oil, yogurt, egg and vanilla extract. Then add your wet ingredients to your dry and mix well.  Once mixed, go ahead and add in your coconut.

Pour into your pan and bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool before removing from pan and cutting.  Enjoy plain, with a slather of butter, peanut butter and even topped with some yogurt!

Hope you enjoy, let me know if you make it!

😍 Shawn

Oh these bars…Banana…Brown Butter…

Brown Butter Banana Bars

Well hello there friends and Happy New Year!  I can say that for another three days, right?!  Then we flip the calendar to February already!  Eek!

This past month has flown by…I’ve been trying to keep my New Year “intentions” going (I like that word better than resolution…doesn’t feel as stressful to me!), along with getting myself organized for another busy year in Real Estate and for once, starting my taxes early!  Crazy right?!

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One of my “intentions” for 2016, is to get out each month, to a restaurant in the Twin Cities that we haven’t been to.  This month we visited Ox Cart Ale House in Lowertown St. Paul, and it was great!  We started with a few appetizers, Crab & Artichoke Dip, Chicken Wings (that’s about as brave as I can get my son to be with food) and the above Smoked Pork Rillettes…it came with tiny & super crisp crostini, pickled veggies (that’s carrots & golden beets…sorry for the weird lighting) and this amazing Beer Mustard! Oh my ❤️

Then each of us had a sandwich of sorts…my non-adventuresome kid had the Bacon Cheeseburger, my daughter tried her first ever Coney Dog (I think they used smoked hot dogs which made it SO much better!) I had the Fried Chicken sandwich and my husband tried the house-made Chicken, Roasted Garlic & Apple Sausage with Caramelized Onions & fresh Herbs.  Everything was SO good!  My sandwich came on a “Milk Bun” which for obvious reasons, made it sound so much better and it was!  We had a sneaking suspicion that they come from a local bakery legend, Danny Klecko at Saint Agnes Baking Co. and we were right!  I am going to get my hands on some again soon!

Lake Superior

I have been itching to get back on here, if only to share a quick recipe with you.  I hope that 2016 will allow more time for this blog, because I really enjoy it.  But, my day… (night, weekend etc.) job in real estate comes first.  Mama’s got to put the bread on the table!  Speaking of which…you have to try this recipe!  It’s like super moist banana bread, topped with a sweet but unique frosting!  If you are like me, you’ll need to put the pan under lock & key, otherwise I will eat the whole pan myself! 😍

brownbutterbars

I found the recipe here=> Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting  and pretty much followed it to a tee.  I stockpile my overripe bananas all year, and this is one of my favorite things to do with it!  Not that you need to improve on this recipe, but it would be fun to add peanut butter chips or even espresso chips to the bars.  And of course you can always add the walnuts, but I am not a big fan of those.Brown Butter

Browning butter is one of my favorite things to do…it makes cookies, sauces, mashed potatoes & these bars SO much more delicious! Take a stick of butter, place into sauté pan, turn heat to medium high and melt…the butter will then start to boil, (turn the heat down a tiny bit if you feel it’s too high)…whisk continuously until you see the butter begin to foam up and start to turn brown.  Keep a very close eye on it at this stage, because it can burn quickly!  I usually cool mine down a bit for use in cookies and such.

Me & Gabby

Not sure if I’ve shared this yet, but my oldest is considering a career in the Culinary Arts!  We are super excited and over the holidays, got her a few beginner cookbooks and hope to start cooking together on the weekends.  I thought it would be fun to blog when we do that, so stay tuned for some fun posts there.

Thanks for following along, wishing you a great end, to the first month of 2016! 😎

Cheers,

~Shawn

Are you considering a move soon?  I would love to help you!  Visit http://www.shawnaugustine.com for more info!

Pesto & Compound Butters…oh my!

Well, would ya look at that…only a mere three+ months since my last post!  Shame on me!  Real Estate has been keeping me busy, which is very good thing!  I am still thinking about food, cooking the best I can everyday, which is all that matters, right?!  Today I wanted to share two things I love most about Summer; Pesto & making Compound Butters.

Flavored Butters

Every year I look for different ways to “preserve our harvest” trying to savor the bounty all year long.  I can’t even tell you what a pat of Chive Butter does to frozen Corn or mashed Potatoes in the middle of Winter…added to a juicy steak or massaged onto Chicken prior to baking.  Or a hunk of Basil Pesto thrown into jarred Spaghetti Sauce, used (with extra Olive Oil) in place of pizza sauce for Pizza night or even as simple as spread onto bread, hot from the oven…

Chives

Tarragon

Thyme

We stock up on Butter all year round, freezing it as we go, so we have plenty on hand to make our favorite Butters.  This year, in addition to the usual, Thyme, Chive & Basil Butters, I tried a Tarragon-Mustard Butter.  Fresh Tarragon, Dijon Mustard and Butter, all whirred up together and then portioned into approximately two tablespoon packets.  One of our favorites ways to eat Pork is with Tarragon & Mustard, so now we can do this easily, with these little babies!

Butter in the mixer

It’s super easy to make a Compound Butter (the fancy name for flavored Butter!); basically you are combining your fresh Herbs with softened Butter.  No need even for a food processor like I use, just finely chop your Herbs and mix the two together.  It’s actually funny, because now instead of drying my Herbs all Summer long, I am finding ways to put them in Butter!  (funny till my jeans get too tight!)

There are many recipes for Compound Butters out there…I have a bunch I’ve pinned on Pinterest you can find here.  I’ve made this one to go on Burgers (it’s off the hook, TRY IT!) from a fellow food blogger friend and recently I found myself with lots of Blue Cheese on the verge of getting too funky, so I made Blue Cheese Butter! Of course you can make yours however you want…add salt & pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper…garlic, fresh onion, get crazy and add Sriracha or Miso…  Make it your canvas and just do it!

Thyme Butter

Chive Butter

Tarragon-Mustard Butter

Pack them into single serve portions on plastic wrap, spread onto parchment paper and roll into a log, or freeze single size servings on parchment paper, on a cookie sheet and once frozen, dump into a freezer bag.  However it works best for you!  And for those of you that live close to me, come on over and grab some fresh Herbs from my garden anytime! ❤

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Pesto has always been a favorite freezer staple of mine.  The past couple of years we haven’t grown too much Basil, so I haven’t done it as often.  Last year we had SO much Oregano, that I made a Pesto out of that.  This year, I found a recipe for KALE PESTO that I had to try!  Yes!  Hooray for Kale!!! 🙂

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I was inspired by this recipe in making this and by the fact that we were trying to eat Kale everyday so our harvest wouldn’t go to waste!  I have had too many experiences with blanching veggies only to pull them out in the dead of Winter, to find they are all mushy and gross.  I didn’t want that to be the case with our Kale so I started looking online for unique ways to preserve it.  We don’t do Kale Smoothies at our house, so I thought doing a traditional Pesto with it would be best.  You guys, I literally wanted to stand there in my kitchen and eat it from the container!!! Ha!  I totally see using this in pasta, adding to soups & stews and maybe even pulling some out to spread on bread with Brie Cheese!

Flower

I hope this finds you enjoying a beautiful Summer!  Don’t forget to take the time to close your eyes and soak in those warm breezes!  Because, you know what’s coming…

Until next time, cheers!

oxox Shawn

 

Silver linings…

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Once upon a time, there was a girl that really didn’t know how to cook.  She met a boy, who did and decided she wanted to try to impress him, with her cooking prowess. She failed, miserably.

Read on…

As a kid, I learned how to “feed” myself & my little brother, out of necessity basically.  My Mom was a nurse and would often works nights and long shifts.  We did a lot of fending for ourselves.  Mac & Cheese was a staple, as was Chicken Noodle & Tomato soup.  And scrambled eggs.  I remember the day my Mom bought us a electric griddle and I learned how to make really super cheesy grilled cheese sandwiches.  I was even able to make Sloppy Joes in that thing!  And Hamburgers…that I sometimes covered with the Chicken Noodle soup.  Don’t knock it until you try it! Yeah, I know, very gourmet. To this day however, nothing says comfort to me, than a big bowl of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Oh and I could make perfect Chocolate Chip cookies!  At least they were perfect to me.  And they are still one of my favorite things to make! ❤

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Fast forward a decade or so and I met my future husband.  He grew up around many fantastic family cooks, spending weekends with his grandparents cooking & gardening. His food career began at the ripe age of 15 working in the kitchen of a neighborhood restaurant, just about an hour outside of Philadelphia.  One day, a couple of years after we had been dating, I decided I wanted to make something really special for dinner.  By now my cooking skills had improved slightly. I could make pasta, rice, potatoes… you know all the good cheap carbs a busy young girl could whip up, quick & easy.  I loved me anything you could make from a box, as well.  You know the ones, Pasta Roni, Rice-a-Roni, and yes…even Hamburger Helper.  How did I ever survive those days! 🙂

I don’t even know where I found this recipe, but it just sounded so “gourmet” and delicious.  I wanted to prove to myself, that I could make something really great.  Maybe I was also trying to win his permanent affection.  Good thing I didn’t place too much stock on that first “gourmet” meal.  It didn’t end well…the dinner, that is.

Vegetable Cannelloni

The recipe was called “Vegetable Stuffed Cannelloni with a Sherry Cream Sauce”… or something like that.  I did find a recipe on Epicurious that was very similar.  The original recipe was destroyed…on purpose…after the failed meal.  You can see that recipe here.

Veggies, before, for stuffingHomemade RicottaVeggies, after, for stuffingVeg Cann4

I went shopping for ingredients, some of which I had never bought before (eggplant, zucchini) and then spent hours (or at least it felt that way) chopping, cooking and prepping the meal.  Carefully stuffed the pasta…poured that insanely delicious cream sauce over the whole bit and popped it into the oven.  I had some leftover sauce in a pan on the stove, that I saved in case I needed more once it was done baking.  Once the timer on the oven went off, I carefully removed that bubbling, incredible smelling masterpiece and placed it on the stove top…on the burner that was keeping that leftover sauce warm.

Those of you that have been through this kind of nightmare before, you probably know exactly where I am going…  Within seconds, the entire glass baking dish, containing that masterpiece I had spent most of the day toiling over, exploded into tiny shards of glass, all over my stovetop, counters and kitchen floor.  I was both shocked & scared and didn’t know what to do, other than fall to ground and proceed to cry like a three year old.  Apparently, you aren’t supposed to put any glass baking dishes on direct heat sources.  It was insane.  There wasn’t even one spoonful we could salvage, for just a bite to see how it tasted! 😦

My sweet future husband just crouched down next to me, telling me it was okay, that I meant well and it was just an accident.  I was devastated.  I didn’t cook anything “gourmet” for quite some time after that.

Cookbook Cover

Fast forward to about a month ago, I saw a post on Instagram from Dana Cowin, the Editor of Food & Wine magazine, promoting her new cookbook, “Mastering My Mistakes In The Kitchen”.  She was asking for people to share their biggest kitchen fail and of course, I had to share this story.  I have thought about that dish many times since, and have learned to become a much better cook…not to mention, learning that very hard lesson, that you should not EVER put a glass baking on anything hot or cold!

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A day or so later, I see a notification that I won a copy of her new cookbook!  My sad story has a silver lining!  As I sat there, excited for my luck, I thought “Shawn, you should find that recipe and make it again!”  And, this time, make it with Homemade Ricotta cheese…if you haven’t made that yet, DO IT!  SO creamy & insanely delicious!

Veg Cann2

My hubby is returning from another fabulous work trip, this time to Brazil, so I thought I would make this for his welcome home meal.  I am also excited to start cooking from Dana Cowin’s new cookbook.  I plan to try the recipe for Sweet Potato, Coconut + Five Spice Gratin and the Chili of Forgiveness.  Oh and the Halibut with Red Coconut Curry. And the Pimento-Cheese Grits…and possibly the Pear + Brown Sugar Upside-Down Cake.  Oh my! ❤

This was a fun post…reminicing about my food journey!  I’ve come along way!  Do you have a similar kitchen failure story?  I would love to hear about it!

Until next time, Cheers! ~Shawn

 

Perfect Pumpkin Bars~

Pumpkin Bars

~Pumpkin Bars~

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can of Pumpkin
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder

  • 3 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 (+/-) tablespoon of milk
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional but delicious)
  • (also optional, you can decorate the top of the bars with candy corn!)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 16” pan. Mix together all wet ingredients. Slowly add in dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Pour into prepared pan, bake for at least 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While bars are baking, mix together the cream cheese, butter and sugar. Slowly add the powdered sugar until mixture is the consistency you want! Once bars have cooled good, spread the frosting over and enjoy!

Happy Fall Y’all! 🙂  Shawn

S’mores Brownies~

S'mores Brownies

What’s more synonymous with Summer than S’mores? It’s the simplest of things really; marshmallows…chocolate…graham crackers all gooed up together!  My kids would eat them everyday, if I let them 🙂  so they were super excited when I told them I was making these!

The bottom is a basic graham cracker crust, that you bake brownies on top of.  Now, I can see this going many different ways…chocolate chips in your brownie batter…caramel somewhere…but today, I am making it per the recipe, which I found on the Food Network website.  (Note: this recipe shows you how to make the Brownies from scratch, but if you have a favorite “shortcut” for your brownies, that should be ok)

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S’mores Brownies:

For the Crust:   6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted ~ 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers ~ 2 tablespoons sugar ~ pinch of salt

For the Brownies:   8 tablespoons unsalted butter ~ 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, chopped ~ 1 cup packed light brown sugar ~ 3/4 cup white sugar ~ 1 1/2 teaspoon fine salt ~ 4 large, cold eggs ~ 1 cup all-purpose flour

Topping:   4 cups large marshmallows

Begin by preheating your oven to 325 degrees.  Line a 8 x 8 inch (square) baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about an inch.

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Crust:  Lightly butter the foil, (including up the sides) with some of the melted butter, using a pastry brush if you have one, or fingers work great too!  Mix together the crushed graham cracker crumbs, sugar, pinch of salt and melted butter.  Attempt NOT to eat this immediately. 🙂  Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan, and place in the preheated oven.  Bake about 20 minutes, or at least golden brown all over.  (more so than when you started…as the crumbs are already golden brown!)

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Brownie:  Place butter and chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl and melt on 75% power for two minutes.  Stir and repeat, until melted.  You can also make yourself a double boiler and melt the chocolate that way.  Continue by stirring together the brown and white sugars and vanilla into the melted chocolate.  Add the salt…then the eggs and beat vigorously to make a thick and glossy batter.  Add the flour and stir until just incorporated.  Pour batter over the graham cracker crust and bake until top is crispy and a toothpick, inserted in the middle, comes out mostly clean.  Will be approximately 40-45 minutes total.  Place brownie pan on a surface that won’t burn.

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Move your oven rack up to the highest level, that will keep the Brownies a safe distance from the burners (six inches is good) and preheat the broiler to the low setting.  Line the marshmallows across the top of the brownies, in a fashion you like best.  Place the pan under the broiler and DO NOT LEAVE.  Keep a constant eye on those little babies, and rotate the pan as you like, for even browning.  After about two minutes, or as browned as you like them, remove from oven and let cool on a rack, gently removing brownies from pan by lifting up using the foil liner.  Pull the foil liner down from the marshmallow, to keep from sticking as it cools.  Once cool, cut & enjoy!

fireSee you soon!

Cheers, Shawn