Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!

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Beef Bourguignon Revisited

Image 2-1-15 at 7.16 PMWhen I first watched the Movie “Julie and Julia”, I knew I had to make Julia Child’s recipe for Beef Bourguignon.  I did make it and several times since (and blogged it in 2010), but I wanted to update the recipe and streamline the steps to make it even easier for myself (and others) to follow.  Today, I made this recipe for my husband’s birthday.  His birthday is not until Tuesday, however this recipe is not one to put together on a busy day – it demands 2 1/2 to 3 hours of cooking and about an hour in prep time.  There are a lot of steps to this dish, but it is well worth the effort.

Notes:  There are two sub recipes that go into this recipe that can be made ahead.  They are listed first. Baby onions are NOT the pearl onions (the size of marbles), I made this mistake they are about 1 inch in diameter.  I peeled double the amount and they are quite tedious when you use the pearl onions – save yourself!  If you have a large enameled cast iron pot (6 1/2 quart Le Creuset works great for me) it would be ideal, but you can use a heavy bottomed oven safe pot with a tight fitting lid instead.  It is important to dry the meat before you sear it, and important to not over-crowd the pot while browning the meat (and mushrooms).  I usually cook about 7 to 10 pieces at a time.

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

Serves 6 adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking p 315

Sub-recipe: Braised Baby Onions

  • (18-24) 1 inch white onions, peeled
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • sprigs of fresh parsley
  • sprigs of fresh thyme

Instructions for Braised Baby Onions

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Heat butter and canola oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat until the butter is melted and bubbles a bit.  Add the peeled onions and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring them gently, so as not to break up the onion skin, until they are lightly browned.  Transfer the onions to a small baking dish and add the beef broth and sprigs of parsley and thyme.  Roast the onions in the oven for 40-50 minutes, turning them once.  Remove herbs.  Set aside until needed (after cooking the Beef Bourguignon)

Sub-recipe: Sauteed Mushrooms

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs mushrooms, clean and dry, quartered
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp oil

Instructions for Sauteed Mushrooms

Place skillet (same one you used for onions) over high heat and heat butter and oil.  Once the foam from the butter subsides, saute the mushrooms in small batches about 4 to 5 minutes per batch.  Remove the cooked mushrooms to a bowl and set aside until needed.  Repeat with mushrooms until all are browned.

Beef Bourguignon

  • 8 oz thick cut bacon, diced
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 3 to 4 lbs chuck roast, trimmed of large pieces of fat and cut into 2 inch pieces, blotted dry with paper towels
  • 6 large carrots, peeled, and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups red wine (Bordeaux, Burgundy, or Chianti work nicely)
  • 4 cups beef broth (or more if needed)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • and sub-recipes for onions and mushrooms (as prepared above)

Instructions for Beef Bourguignon:

In a large heavy bottomed pot, over medium-high heat, saute the bacon in 1 tablespoon of canola oil, until it is browned and crispy.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon.

Turn the heat up to high and brown your pieces of meat, in batches, in the rendered bacon fat, turning them over to brown other sides until you have a nice crust.  Remember not to crowd the meat, or it will not brown properly. Repeat until all your meat is nicely browned.  Remove the meat to a medium bowl.

Brown the onion slices and chunks of carrot in the same bacon drippings.  Pour off any excess bacon fat (though I rarely have any).

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Add the bacon and beef to the carrots and sliced onions you just browned.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper and combine.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the beef and toss to coat the mixture.  Place the pot (uncovered) in the preheated oven and cook for 4 minutes.  Remove from oven, toss again and return to oven for an additional 4 minutes.  Remove the pot from the oven and place back on the burner, over medium heat.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.

Add the red wine into your beef and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits.  Add 4 cups of beef broth (or as much as you need to cover the beef completely). Add tomato paste, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine.  Bring the stew to a near boil.  Turn off your burner.  Place a lid on your pot and transfer to the oven.  Allow to braise for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring once half way through.

Remove the beef and carrots to a large bowl.  Pour your broth through a colander into a 4 cup capacity gravy separator.  Allow the gravy to separate and skim off the excess fat. Adjust the seasoning of the broth (add salt if necessary) – I rarely need to do so.

Clean your pot and return the beef and carrots back to the pot.  Add your baby onions and mushrooms and stir to combine (if you made them ahead and refrigerated them, reheat them in the microwave before adding).

Serve with cooked baby potatoes,  egg noodle pasta, or steamed rice and green veggies.  Pour the gravy over the Beef Bourguignon and enjoy!

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

IMG_8349My husband loves Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.  I recently made one in my cast iron skillet and it turned out great (other than the fact that I used a 12 inch skillet instead of a 10 inch the recipe called for, but it was still delicious – I had to reduce the cooking time as a result. ) I will be getting a 10 inch cast iron skillet soon, so I can make this correctly.  The recipe is from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion it is a real treasury for baking that I really recommend.  I have made a few recipes from this book and the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is a keeper as well. (Amazon: The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion)

I overdid it on Maraschino cherries.. but my family says there is no such thing!  I also omitted the nuts, but I will leave them in the recipe so you can decide if you want it in yours.  My husband said it was like the cake he remembers having as a child.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

adapted from King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion p 376

Serves 10


  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 (16 oz) can pineapple rings, drained (juice reserved)
  • 12 to 16 maraschino cherries (or more … like the whole jar! minus the two you ate)
  • 16-20 pecan or walnut halves, optional
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup reserved pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet (though I used a 12 inch and it turned out okay too… just reduced the cooking time, but the cake was very thin).  Sprinkle the dark brown sugar into the melted butter and place the pineapple on top.  Arrange the maraschino cherries inside the pineapple rings and additional gaps.  If you are also using nuts, place those in the gaps in addition to the cherries.

In a medium bowl, soft the flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.  Combine the pineapple juice and vanilla and set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat the eggs until they have thickened and are light in color.  Sprinkle in the sugar with the mixer running.  Add the pineapple juice mixture and slow the mixer down as you add the flour mixture to the batter gradually.  Mix at medium speed for about 1 minute.

Pour the batter over your pineapple rings and cherries.  Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until the center is springy to the touch and the cake is pulling away from the sides of your cast iron skillet.  Remove it from the oven.  Then place a serving platter upside down on the skillet and carefully (with oven mitts!) invert the pan over the platter- allow the pan to stay over the cake for about 5 minutes or longer so that the sugar drips back down onto the cake.  The cake should have loosened enough from the pan to easily transfer to the plate leaving the beautiful pineapple rings exposed.  Slice into 10 wedges and serve.

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My Favorite Kitchen Tools

I love my kitchen gadgets and helps.  I have a few favorites that I would like to tell you about.

My top pick for the kitchen that is handy to have is an immersion blender.  I have one from Braun that I won at a silent action in 2002 that still works, but Kitchen Aid has a great one, as well as Cuisineart. They range from 20-100 dollars.  What I like about them is that you immerse the blender in your soup pot (or other dish) and are able to blend the soup or sauce in the dish, rather than placing it in a blender and having a big bulky thing to wash. The blending stick is detachable from the motor and is usually dishwasher safe.  Win!

My next favorite item is the spice stack! I have two.  My husband gave them to me for Christmas last year and I finally have an organized spice cabinet.  They come in different sizes, so you may not need two – depending on how many spices you use regularly. Here is a link to the small one you can also find a large one here.  It does a better job with round bottles, some of the square ones do not fit well.  Yes, I use two of the large ones.. 60 spice bottles… and I still have overflow, but it works for the ones I use most! :-)

Salt and pepper grinder.  I like using sea salt.  I am told that sea salt is lower in sodium and better for you. My Christmas gift from my son was a pair from Kuhn Rikon Ratchet Mills.  You can easily adjust the size of the grind by turning a knob on the output.  It is super easy to load, as it has a little door that swings out on the side and you simply pour the salt and peppercorns into the unit and close it.  I love this pair – my family says it looks like it is a Dalek out of an episode of Dr Who!

My salad spinner.  I had one for a long time that served me well, but it recently broke and my husband replaced it with a Kitchen Aid spinner… it was okay, but the lid kept coming apart and was not the easiest to reassemble.  I bought one from Oxo at my local market and I love this one.  The bowl is nice and solid and pretty enough to put the salad in after for serving.  It has a simple slide lock that keeps the pump in place for storage and a button for breaking.

My pots and pans are of course my best friends.  I was fortunate enough to be able to buy my all clad stainless pots at a kitchen store that was going out of business – it was 40% off and I was able to save several hundred on that, or I would not have them!  They were the display models so they had a few scratches on them, but they work great.  The thing about All Clad that I love is that they are heavy, thick bottomed pots and pans that conduct heat evenly.  Even heat is always a good thing!

For my non stick pans, I am falling more and more in love with my Lodge cast iron skillet. It is heavy behemoth of a monster, but now that I season it properly, it is the one pan I like to use.  What I love is that it can go from stove top to oven with no problems, but it does get HOT!  My lighter companion non-stick skillets are scanpan, which have a thin porcelain vs teflon coating.  I found they do get scratched easily though, so I usually have a layer between them when I store them (like bubble wrap or paper) and I try not to over-heat them.

We love pizza and calzones at our house.  My must have for that is a pizza stone!  I love my pizza stone from Pampered Chef, but you can find other brands as well that do a good job.  Pampered Chef used to have one that was round that did not have handles.. I liked that model better because it was more versatile.  It did have a metal rack you could slide under it that would give you handles for easy lifting.

Crock pot liners: I only recently discovered them.  I love the fact that the food no longer hopelessly gets stuck on the side of my crock pot and it is much easier to clean.  I just discard the liner, give the inside of the crock-pot and lid a quick wash and get on with my day, rather than having to soak and scrub the food from the side wall of the insert.

Of course I should not forget my work horses of the kitchen: good quality knives!  The brand that I use is Wusthof Classic.  I find having quality knives in the kitchen makes the prep time shorter.  I like to keep my knives sharp – a dull knife can easily slip and hurt you more than a sharp one can, though I get occasional cuts, they are the gift I will give to a young couple as a gift.  There are plenty of good brands available, but because I am used to the feel and balance of Wusthof I use them.  They have a new line however, Gourmet that is cheaper (and also more cheaply made) that lacks the balance that Classic or Grand Prix have.

These are some of my favorite things.  I hope they help you in your kitchen as well.

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Curried Chicken Salad

IMG_8370At Christmas time, I always look forward to attending an annual Christmas Tea at a church.  The food that stood out to me this year was their Curried Chicken Salad served in a pita pocket.  I immediately begged my friends Cara and Elizabeth in the kitchen for the recipe and they were happy to share with me.  Yay for everyone, because I got permission to share the recipe on my blog.  Today I had the chicken salad on a bed of greens.  I use a rotisserie chicken, but for large amounts, canned does a lovely job as well.  I also made this salad for our choir Christmas Eve services, and several people asked for the recipe.  This Curried Chicken Salad can be enjoyed year round!

Thank you Cara and Elizabeth for sharing this yummy recipe!

Curried Chicken Salad

Source Cara and Elizabeth @ NP Church

Serves 6


  • 4 cups cooked, cubed chicken
  • 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained, chopped
  • 8 oz pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1 lb grapes, halved or quartered if large
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds


  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder


Combine the chicken, water chestnuts, pineapple tidbits, and grapes in a bowl and toss.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and pour over the chicken mixture.  Stir to combine.  Refrigerate until serving. Sprinkle with slivered almonds just before servings.

Serving Suggestions: Fill pita pockets with a generous scoop of chicken salad, or serve over a bed of greens.  Pecans are also very nice instead of slivered almonds.


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C is for Cookie

img_7928As  Thanksgiving breathes down our necks and see Christmas quickly approaching like an out of control freight train, my mind becomes obsessed with foods that I love at this time of year.  Of course, Christmas cookies are not optional and I want to share some of my favorites with all of you, so you also can be obsessed with me.  I was asking my children which cookies they wanted this year and these were all in the running.

My favorites are:

Black Dog Restaurant Ginger Cookies

This recipe yields a large batch of  beautiful chewy ginger cookies that are a Christmas favorite.  If I only had time to make one homemade cookie at this time of year it would be the one I would choose to make!

Hazelnut Chewies (Nutella Cookies)

I love Nutella.  I grew up with the stuff and was pleased to find that I could get it in the States as well.  My husband once asked me why I did not buy them, and I sheepishly admitted that I did buy it and have it… but have a hard time sharing it.  Ha!  Well, when I make these cookies, I do share them and they are great!  Soft and chewy texture. It does use a whole jar of Nutella though – but I promise it will be worth it.  Now to find a new hiding place for my stash!

Orange Zest Cookies with Sweet Orange Glaze

I found these last year, in an effort to find cookies similar to ones my Mom used to make.  My mom did not have the recipe anymore, but I was determined to find a replacement and this one is really close!  The glaze gives the orange flavor an extra boost.  I love these a lot.

Spritz Cookies

These cookies are pressed out of a cookie press.  They are very popular in Europe.  This recipe I found from – one of my favorite sites to go to for recipes that are rated by members.

Shortbread Cookies

This recipe is actually on blogspot on my first food blog I made, but never transferred the recipe to wordpress.. I need to work on that!  It is a good recipe for shortbread and the dough though a large amount is easy to work with and has a nice flavor.

Chocolate Rum Balls

This is another recipe that was on my first blog.  It is one of those recipes you make and share with other adults and  keep away from the kids (or substitute orange juice for the rum and make them a yummy batch that they can eat).  I do not make this every year, I could easily become addicted to them.

Homemade Marshmallows

I made these for a party recently.  Homemade marshmallows do require a candy thermometer to make them, but they are well worth the effort and are way better than the store bought ones.  They actually melt in hot cocoa and are so good!

I hope you enjoy trying some of my favorites.  Merry Christmas!


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Pressure Cooker Chili

IMG_8228Every year a group of our friends gets together for their Annual Chili Cook-Off.  I love going to them, not just to try to win, but to enjoy the fellowship of our long time friends.  We do not see them very often, as we live in another county, but when we do it is a treat to pick up where we left off!

This year I tried a few new recipes and found a new secret weapon: the pressure cooker!  I know a lot of you are now backing away from your computer right now because you see it exploding!  The modern pressure cookers have valves that prevent that from happening. My parents gave me a nice German made Fissler pressure cooker about 12 years ago, it has been a great tool in the kitchen.  I just never made chili in it before!  What the pressure cooker does to the meat (cheap chuck roast, trimmed of its fat) is amazing.  The downfall of cooking it in the crock pot for hours is that the meat tends to get stringy – but it is very tender.  In the pressure cooker, the meat becomes tender and juicy but still holds its consistency.

I have a chili recipe that I really have liked for a long time.  This year I decided to tweak it just a little and to cook it in the pressure cooker.  I did the prep work in my trusty cast iron skillet, because I like how well it retains the heat and it holds a lot.  Then I finished it in the pressure cooker.  I could have just used my pressure cooker rather than dirty another pot, but I find it  a little more cumbersome to cook bacon and brown the meat in it.

Becky’s Pressure Cooker Chili

Serves 6 – 8


  • 1 package thick cut bacon, cooked til crisp (reserving the drippings for browning the meat)
  • 3 lbs beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • salt and pepper to season the meat
  • garlic powder to season the meat
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 orange (or yellow, or green) bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Ancho chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 (14-15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14-15 oz) can tomato sauce
  •  3/4 cup water
  • 1 (14-15 oz) can of chili beans, kidney beans, or navy beans (your choice)


I heated my cast iron skillet up about 10 minutes over medium high heat, before I cooked the bacon, rendering out the fat.  I drained the crisp bacon on paper towels and poured off the bacon fat to a small bowl, leaving about 1 tablespoon of fat in my skillet.

I had removed most of the fat from my beef chuck roast and cut into bite sized pieces.  Seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder before browning the meat cubes in the skillet over medium high heat in the bacon fat.  I did this in smaller batches so that the meat had a chance to brown.  I stirred a few times and removed the meat to a bowl.  Repeated the process with the remaining meat until the meat cubes were also browned.  I added a tablespoon of bacon fat to each batch to aid the browning. I once again removed all the meat from the skillet.

Added 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings to the skillet and cooked the onions and peppers for about 5 minutes until the onions were beginning to turn opaque.  I added the minced garlic and cooked for another minute until it was fragrant.  I added the Ancho powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes to the onion mixture and cooked it for another 30 seconds.  I added the tomato paste and meat cubes back into the skillet and stirred to combine.  Then I added the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and water to the skillet and stirred to combine.  I decided to add the beans in after cooking the meat in the pressure cooker because they were already cooked and there was not much room left in my pressure cooker…

I ladled the chili into my pressure cooker, secured the lid, cranked the heat to high and watched carefully to make sure it had reached high pressure before turning my burner down and setting the timer for 15 minutes.  I do keep a careful watch to maintain the pressure on high (mine has an indicator for high and low pressure – the low is intended for veggies and such).  After the timer went off, I turned off the heat and allowed the pot to sit until the pressure released itself on its own and the valves released steam.  This took another 15 minutes or so.

After the lid released, I stirred in the beans.  Forced my husband to taste it with me (it did not take much persuasion) and allowed it to cool before putting it in the fridge.. that’s right.. the chili is really better the second day..

Serve with crisp bacon bits, sour cream if desired, and grated cheddar cheese.  My children insist that when I make chili I also make  Corn Bread Pudding .

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My Favorite Things (at Thanksgiving)

With Thanksgiving approaching, I just wanted to highlight a few of my favorite recipes.

Turkey and Stuffing is a given – I don’t think I need to post a recipe for that though, because everyone likes their own recipe – I made the mistake of trying out a new recipe at Thanksgiving once for the stuffing and I was truly sorry I had tried something new on that day.  The day to experiment is not on Thanksgiving when it comes to the essentials.

I do love Martha Stewart’s recipe for Cranberry Compote.  I alternate that with my grandmother’s recipe for cranberry relish that is processed with apples, pineapples, and oranges. The apples and oranges are washed but processed with the peel.  It gives it a nice tart flavor.


Martha Stewart’s Cranberry Compote – adapted

Source The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook Copyright 2000 p 486

I double the recipe,(amounts are doubled) because the single recipe never seems enough for more than a meal.  I also reduced the sugar amount because I found it plenty sweet with less sugar.

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 6 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups sugar (originally 2 cup)
  • 1/2  tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to pop but are still whole (7-10 minutes).  Transfer to a bowl to cool.  Good hot or cold.


My Grandma’s Cranberry Relish


  • 1  lb fresh cranberries
  • 2 (14 oz) cans Pineapple chunks, with juice
  • 2  Apples, washed and cored with peel
  • 2 Oranges, washed with peel
  • 1/2 cup Sugar

Blend ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Best when prepared a day in advance or more.  It keeps in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Broccoli with Parmesan Crumb Topping

Serves 6


  • 1 bunch broccoli, washed and cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 inch water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup seasoned Progresso bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Put the broccoli in a covered pot with an inch of water and seasoned with salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low, cover and steam for about 10 minutes until it is a nice dark green.
Drain the broccoli and transfer to a baking dish.  Melt the butter and combine with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over the broccoli.  Bake at 325-350 for 15 minutes until the crumb topping is golden brown and the cheese melts a little.  Enjoy.  If you wish sprinkle more freshly grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle some lemon juice over the dish.


Glazed Carrots

  • Carrots, peeled and sliced into coins (however many you need to serve your crowd)
  • Water to cover
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 Tbsp honey

Place the carrot slices in a pan.  Cover with water and add salt.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover.  Cook for 15 minutes (test them at 10 minutes – depending on the size of the carrot slices they make be done early and we don’t want them to boil to mush!)  Drain water.  Add butter, nutmeg and honey.  Stir and serve.


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