November 21, 2011

HB Cooks: Pot Pie!

No time for turkey this year? How about some quick and easy pot pie?  I recently prepared this recipe for Beef and Vegetable Pot Pie which I found on  While I cooked ground beef as suggested, I see no reason why you can’t substitute any ground meat - turkey, pork, lamb - or just add more vegetables.  The only additional ingredient that I included was thawed frozen peas, mainly because I can't imagine a pot pie without peas.  The original recipe calls for pre-made breadsticks, but I used canned biscuits instead since they are easier to find at the supermarket.  To ensure the golden brown look, I placed a pat of butter on top of each biscuit with about 5 minutes of cooking time remaining, and added a sprinkle of garlic salt.  The entire meal took under an hour with prep (under 45 minutes I believe) and I had leftovers for days.  I wish you all a very happy and stress-free Thanksgiving!   

November 13, 2011

HB Sweets: Cupcakes, brownies, whoopie pies, oh my!

Dough Heads Bakery in Englewood, New Jersey is a great little shop that is definitely worth checking out if you are in the Northern New Jersey area (not far from the GW Bridge).  With a huge menu and an inviting set up, this is the kind of bakery I wish I could start my mornings with everyday.  I first heard about Dough Heads in July thanks to a local newspaper article describing the beginnings of this delicious establishment.  The owners, Megan Olund and Chris Helsin, love to bake everything from scratch and use simple, fresh and tasty ingredients. 

On my recent visit to Dough Heads I sampled a variety of their popular sweets. The list included mini-whoopie pies, cupcakes, and a brownie (I had to limit myself!).   The whoopie pies come in three flavors: chocolate, red velvet, and seasonal pumpkin.  Each flavor was just as tasty as the next.   The brownie was moist and luscious, so moist in fact that it was almost creamy in texture.  Finally, the mint chocolate chip cupcake was definitely my favorite treat of the day.  It had all of the great flavor of mint chocolate chip ice cream, with a light and fluffy chocolate cake.  To read more about Dough Heads click here

Do you have a favorite local bakery?  Please share and I may schedule a visit! 

November 5, 2011

HB Cooks: Yummy Beef Stew

This week the unexpected pre-Halloween snow inspired me to break out the slower cooker and make some delicious and comforting beef stew.  For those of you out there (like me) who don't have a big family to cook for, or lack a gigantic crock pot, I recommend the book "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two: For the Small Slow Cooker."   It is full of innovative recipes especially tailored to create 2 serving meals rather than larger meals of 4 or more servings.  

Slow Cooker Beef Stew
1 lb. boneless chuck roast
1 T. olive oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/4 lb. baby carrots
1 small parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 T. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme 
1 1/2 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 T. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

The prep for this stew recipe was pretty simple, just chop the vegetables and brown the meat. One thing that I've learned from all of my slow cooker books, is that browning meat prior to slow cooking is key for flavor in the overall dish. Make sure to salt and pepper the meat before to searing it in olive oil.  Next combine the browned meat with the first 7 stew ingredients in the cooker and set on HIGH for 4 and 1/2 hours.  Within the last hour of cooking create a buerre manie with the butter and flour.  A buerre manie is a thickening agent (sort of like roux) which should be then stirred into the stew until it is melted. Finally, add in the peas and cook for the remaining time. 

Even though the cooking time was on the shorter side compared to other slow cooker recipes,  I found myself counting down the minutes until I could dive in thanks to the wonderful smells in the kitchen. The meal turned out great, except it needed more salt because I used reduced-sodium beef broth.  The original recipe also called for sun-dried tomatoes, but I left those out. Enjoy!