Sunday, November 23, 2008

My pick for entertaining

Last Christmas we exchanged homemade gifts on Josh's side of the family. Our gift was an invitation for dinner and entertainment (Ava) at our house. We were so excited to have Josh's parents over for dinner on Friday night. Many moons ago, when Josh and I were at A&M, we worked in a cafe in Brenham called The Pomegranate. One of my favorite cold day meals that the owner, Connie, would make was Beef Burgundy. This recipe combines Connie's soup with The Barefoot Contessa's Fillet of Beef Bourguinononne. It's very rich, and warms you from the inside out. My favorite part is that the protein and veggies are all in the same dish, no need to dirty more dishes for sides. Ava particularly enjoys the carrots. Add a little crusty French Bread on the side, and you've got the perfect meal for a chilly night.
For dessert I found a recipe for Hello Dolly bars on the Cooking Light website. I had tried these bars for the first time this summer at The Rather Sweet Bakery in Fredericksburg. The Cooking Light version is MUCH better for you...only 123 calories per serving! I made a slight variation in the recipe, and I've posted it accordingly. Please comment below if you have any questions about the recipes. I'd love to help!

Beef Bourguigonne

* 3-pounds of your favorite beef fillet (Not stew meat, you really want to splurge on the protein in this meal!)
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Olive oil
* 8 strips bacon, cut in pieces with kitchen shears
* 2 minced garlic cloves (I recommend using the Pampered Chef garlic press)
* 1.5 cups Burgundy or Chianti
* 2 cups beef stock (Reduced sodium is best.)
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* 2 sprigs fresh thyme
* ¾ pound pearl onions, peeled but not chopped
* 10 carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
* ½ pound of your favorite mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
* 1 cup of water

Salt and pepper the fillets on both sides. Cut them into bite-size pieces. Use a large soup pot to sauté the slices of beef in batches with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until browned on the outside and very rare inside, about 7 minutes. Remove them from the pan, and set to the side on a platter.

Using the same pot, sauté the bacon on medium heat until browned and crispy. Put the bacon on top of the fillet pieces and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Use the red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Cook on high for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, 1-teaspoon salt, and 1/2-teaspoon pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook uncovered on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs from the pot. Add the onions and carrots and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is significantly reduced and the vegetables are cooked.

Add the fillet of beef slices, the mushrooms, the cup of water, and the bacon to the pot with the vegetables and sauce. Cover and reheat gently for 15 minutes.

Hello Dolly Bars

* 9 graham crackers, blended into sand
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 1 tablespoon water
* 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
* 1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
* 2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans
* 1 (15-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°.
Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

Place graham cracker sand in a medium bowl. Mix with butter and water; toss with a fork until moist. Gently pat mixture into an even layer in pan (do not press firmly).

Sprinkle chips and morsels over crumb mixture. Top evenly with coconut and pecans. Drizzle condensed milk evenly over top. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly around edges. Cool completely on wire rack.

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