Sunday, October 8, 2017

Braised Short Ribs

There's something about this time of year that fuels my love for cooking and baking more than others.  Despite this year's trend towards sustained warmer temps into the early days of Fall, I decided to rev up my cooler weather repertoire last weekend.  And I couldn't think of a better way to launch into the land of seasonal eats than with my favorite braised short ribs.  So I grabbed my extra large dutch oven and let the fun unfold. 

Hearty beef short ribs, cooked to moist, tender, melt-in-your-mouth perfection, made for a Sunday supper that was loved by all (every cook's goal, right?).

I shared the behind-the-scenes action of bringing the dish together, so if you missed the fun, you can catch it here.

File this recipe in your "must have" warm and cozy fare because I'm certain that you'll want to make it again and again.  Served over creamy polenta, with pasta, mashed potatoes, as tacos, and more, makes this dish supremely versatile...and the gift that keeps on giving.

Happy Eating!

Braised Short Ribs 
3 lbs beef short ribs 
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced 
3 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground pepper
Garlic powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1 bottle dry red wine
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Bundle of fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
2 bay leaves
1 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil   

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Season flour with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Separately, sprinkle salt and pepper on short ribs.  Dredge short ribs in flour to coat, dusting off excess.  Set aside on a baking sheet.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven.  Add short ribs and sear on each side until golden brown (working in batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding the pot).  Remove seared ribs and return to the baking sheet.

Add onions, carrots and garlic and saute until tender, using same oil.  Stir in wine, broth, tomato paste, sugar, Worcestershire, and more salt and pepper to taste.  Add short ribs back to the dutch oven, toss in thyme and bay, and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by almost half.  

Place covered dutch oven in the preheated oven and cook for 2 to 2.5 hours, until short ribs are fork tender.  Remove twine and bay leaves.  Transfer the ribs to a baking sheet.  Spoon fat off the top of the braising liquid. Taste for seasoning. Add ribs back in, serve and enjoy! 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Postcard from Cuba: 24 Hours in Havana

What is it like when you finally place your feet on a once forbidden, mystery shrouded, yet increasingly exposed, land?  For me, emerging from my cruise ship's portal into the wide-open, humidity-laced, sun-scorched land of Havana, Cuba was on the sorts of a traveler's dream come true.  With little more than 24 hours to explore and experience the phenomenon that has become Cuba, I hardly knew where to begin.  And yet, somehow I did. 

Before I managed to wander far, my fantasy to cruise the streets of historic Havana in classic Cubano style (read: in the backseat of a top-down, brightly-hued, old-school style convertible) was becoming a living reality.  I contained my excitement long enough to arrange a two-hour tour, replete with a driver narrative of historic sights (albeit in Spanish) and occasional stops to allow for further exploration, photo ops and in-the-moment revelry.

My initial hours in Cuba were shaping up to be exactly what I had anticipated prior to arriving--except for the intense heat, I must concede.  But sweat pours aside, being greeted by exuberant locals who often mistook me for Dominican or Brazilian before I explained I was American, to ingesting the old, preserved architecture, color-dotted buildings that lined narrow streets and winding alleys, and the very apparent living conditions that reflect a local lifestyle that is still greatly impacted by the decades of relative oppression, was reminiscent of the authentic lens that I seek in my travels.

As day gave way to night, I prepared to reemerge onto the local scene and experience a Havana night that would further punctuate my time there with yet another high note.  A lover of music, dance, theater and musicals since forever, I decided on a Cabana-Style show in the Parisien Cabaret of the famous Hotel National de Cuba.  It turned out to be over-the-top in ways both good and not so good, so pace yourself if something more subdued is typically your pleasure.  Even still, it was clear that the performers shared their hearts with us and left it all on the stage, as they sang and dance the hours away.

The next morning found me resolved to brave the Cuban sun once more to take advantage of the remaining time at port.  Time dedicated to perusing and absorbing more of the essence of Havana.

I stumbled upon and browsed an outdoor bookshop, toured a nearby museum, chatted with a local or two, and snapped final parting shots, before returning to the ship and bidding farewell to this previous enigma, turned slightly familiar place.  And for a little more than 24 hours, I relished it all.

Happy Travels!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor-less Labor Day Eats x Atlanta Plugged In

Summer isn't over yet!! I want to (air) scream this every time I cite a mention of Fall food and flavors these days.  Don't get me wrong, I loveeee the Fall.  It's my favorite season, in fact, but I'm all about celebrating each season to its fullest--and that means relishing the final days of Summer.

Just as Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of Summer, Labor Day tends to mark the unofficial end of this sultry time of year.  And with Labor Day in mind (and on the horizon), I have to share a few, fun recipes to make your entertaining over the long weekend anything but laborious.  Think effortless!

If you follow me on social media (I'd love it if you did--see the easy 'connect' buttons in the right margin. Shameless plug. ;-) ), then you're likely aware that I had the awesome privilege of returning to my favorite, Atlanta Plugged In, earlier this week to share my tips and recipes for making the most of the holiday.

Now that you've watched the segment, I hope you're inspired to try these easy, delicious, and, yes, healthy dishes.  Win, win, win.

And to tie it all together with a big bow on top, I'm sharing a bonus "recipe" in the way of a super fun and effortless sip.  Because there's so much to cheers to and be thankful for.

Enjoy a delicious, effortless, and safe holiday weekend.

Happy Eating!

Peach Caprese Bites
Fresh peaches, sliced into rounds
Fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Prosciutto, thinly sliced
Basil leaves
Flaked sea salt (optional)
Balsamic syrup, for garnish, (optional)

Arrange peaches, mozzarella, basil and prosciutto in stacks.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and drizzle balsalmic, if using.  Enjoy!

Roasted Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers
Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Fresh pineapple
Old Bay Seasoning
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive Oil  
Brown sugar 
Fresh limes  

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss together shrimp, seasoning, a light sprinkling of salt, freshly ground pepper and olive oil.  Roast in preheated oven for 5-6 minutes.  Set aside.

On a separate baking sheet, toss together pineapple, brown sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Roast for 15 minutes in preheated oven. (*Cook's Note: Shrimp and pineapple can be prepared a day ahead and served at room temperature, if preferred.)

Add roasted shrimp, pineapple and cilantro to skewers.  Garnish with more chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice.  Enjoy!

Watermelon with Chili-Spiced Salt
Fresh watermelon slices or chunks
1 tablespoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon chili powder 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less, to taste)

Add salt and spices to a dish and stir well to combine.  Sprinkle over melon, serve and enjoy! (*Cook's Note: leftover salt can be stored in an airtight container in your pantry.)

Cotton Candy Sparkler
Cotton candy
Sparkling drink of choice (cider, prosecco, champagne, etc.)

Pour sparkling beverage in glasses.  Top with cotton candy.  Toast and enjoy!     


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Mixed Fruit Green Smoothie Bowl

I'm back on my smoothie craze these days, after an unintentional hiatus.  Ever since I began making smoothies years ago, I've been relatively constant about indulging--especially during the Summer months when my frothy, icy concoctions bring a much needed (and healthier) cool down.  I can rely on them to give me a semblance of the tasty goodness that ahem, a milkshake, might otherwise offer.

I also happen to be intentionally focusing on 'cleaner' eating these days, and smoothies are an easy go-to for loading fruits, vegetables, and added nutrients into your eating regimen.  My current favorite is a mixture of fruit and greens--with all the same good to you, good for you, scrumptious-ness that I love.

And while I'm talking cleaner eating, my newest star ingredient is a Coconut-Almond Milk blend that I discovered at the market recently.  It's everything (cue: diary free, gluten free, soy free, non-gmo and sugar free).  Everything, right?  Annnd.... it's only 45 calories per serving and provides the perfect creamy, sweet goodness as the base of my smoothie.  I'll admit that I was dubious about displacing my usual juice + coconut water base, but this was love at first sip.

So in the spirit of sharing and caring, I'm sharing my easy, good to the last drop smoothie recipe-turned-smoothie bowl.  About the bowl effect, I love it because it allows me to layer in more goodness with the toppings of my choice (fruits, toasted coconut chips, and whatever else your heart and taste buds desire.)  Smoothie bowls also happen to be all the rave right now, so I had to jump in on the fun.

Here's to more healthy, yummy goodness in your breakfast and snack routines and always to...

Happy Eating!

Mixed Fruit Green Smoothie Bowl
1 cup Coconut-Almond Milk Blend (or Almond Milk, if you can't find the blend)
3/4 cup frozen mixed fruit
1/2 banana
1 cup fresh baby kale mix (or other greens of choice)
1 tsp honey
Fresh berries, coconut chips to garnish (optional)

Add milk, frozen fruit, banana, greens and honey to a blender and blend to desired consistency.  (Note: if smoothie mixture needs extra liquid, add in a little water and continue to blend.)  Pour smoothie into a bowl, garnish with toppings and enjoy!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

{Let's Celebrate!} Popsugar Must Have Box Turns Five!

If you're like me, it doesn't take much to get you in the mood for a celebration.  And when my August PopSugar Must Have Box arrived in the mail recently, it was just the indulgence I needed.  As a resident girly girl, it was right up my alley.  From beauty treatments, to a stylish journal, to glitter candles (my personal favorite), a gorgeous confetti tray, chocolate chunk cookies (yes, you read that right), and more, I've been like a kid in a candy store. 

But that's not the only reason this month's box is special.  The August Must Have Box also marks the five year anniversary of this lifestyle favorite.  And to keep the celebration in high gear,  PopSugar Must Have is doing weekly giveaways!

All current subscribers are eligible--and if you're not a subscriber yet, not to worry.  Simply sign-up before the end of August to get in on the fun and chances to win.  And use the discount code 'PARTY' to receive a $10 discount off of your first box if you order by August 31st.

Here's to more celebrations and many more years of curated goodies!

Happy Birthday Must Have Box!

Friday, July 28, 2017

{Toast With This!}: Strawberry Spritzer

Enduring the Summer heat is a lot more bearable when you're sipping on a cool, effervescent and refreshing drink that boasts the season's bounty.  And with that in mind, I recently added another favorite to my mocktail repertoire.

Inspired by my love for homemade everything, I set about to create a strawberry puree, accented with a hint of fresh lime juice.  And can I just tell you--it was sooo good.  (Like, spoonfuls in the middle of the day, straight from the container, kind of good. Don't judge me.)  From there, the possibilities became endless for how to make the most of the berry-licious concoction.

Freeze into sorbet.  Spoon over ice cream.  Make into a seasonal spritzer.  The latter of these was my immediate go-to, but the other options are still very much alive.

And this "non-recipe", recipe of sorts, couldn't be easier to pull off--or transform with additional or alternate flavors.  One technique x endless options = happy cooking at its finest.

So cheers to more of Summer's luscious flavors...and to Happy Sipping!

Strawberry Spritzer
1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus more to garnish as desired
1/2 cup sugar
Club soda
Ice Cubes

Place strawberries in a blender or food processor and blend into a puree.  Strain puree through a fine mesh sieve.

Add in sugar and lime juice and stir well to combine.  Store in an airtight container for 8-12 hours or overnight to chill mixture.

Mix together 1/4 cup of puree and 3/4 cup of club soda.  Pour over ice, serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit 


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Dear Carrot Cake,

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways....

Your moist, luscious cake... Your creamy, decadent frosting... Your...

By now, you're probably thinking, "Really, Dawn?  A love letter to cake?!"  And if I hadn't baked and tasted it for myself many times over, I would be right there in the skeptic's seat along with you.  Just trust me when I tell you that my ode could never come close to being overrated.  It really is that good...and special.

As with most of my favorite recipes, I began baking this cake many years ago and sharing it among family and friends.  We all loved it, so I later added it to my catering menus.  And surprise! My clients also loved it.  The rest, as we say, is history. 

From holiday celebrations, to birthday affairs, to dinner parties, and good 'ole sweet tooth cravings, this Carrot Cake continues to hold its own in the sea of confectionery delights.

I gave it an honorable mention once here on the blog, as I shared highlights from a Thanksgiving Dinner.  Today I've finally come full circle to share a recipe, as well (and if you must know, I took so long because I vowed I would never give up my source for this unbelievable yumminess. And that's still not entirely untrue.) But because I'm a generous girl at heart :), I'm offering up a similar recipe to get your baking--and indulging--underway! 

Happy Eating!

Carrot Cake
(Recipe courtesy of Epicurious)
© D.M.R. Fine Foods. All rights reserved.