Monthly Archives: February 2014

Quick and Easy French Dip Sandwiches

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Some say that the best invention known to man was the wheel, or more recently, modern medicine. While I don’t necessarily contest their importance, I feel that the sandwich should be added to the illustrious list of human accomplishments. In all seriousness, imagine your life if the sandwich had never come to fruition. What would people eat for lunch? Would there even be lunch? Would children survive without their PB&J? Don’t even get me started with the breakfast sandwich. I find the prospect of a sandwichless world very, very depressing.

I won’t bore you with a long history lesson on the etymology of the sandwich, however, I think it’s important to note that the sandwich was named after John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich. Why is this important? Well, around the 1700s, Mr. Sandwich requested his meat in between two pieces of bread because of how convenient it was—he was a regular gambler and eating a ‘sandwich’ at the gambling tables was much more conducive to his time consuming hobby than eating a formal, sit-down dinner in another part of his manor. So from day one, the sandwich has been attached to convenience.

Now let’s get to the meat of it. Dinner sometimes just seems like another chore. On nights where a long cooking session is out of the question, we like to fall back on the sandwich, in thanks to its versatility and convenience. When I crossed paths with a few quick and easy French dip sandwich recipes, I knew our next sandwich night would have to consist of tasty roast beef on a cheesy, toasted hoagie/sub roll with delectable au jus on the side. The French dip sandwiches were such a success that we have been making them weekly for the past two months. The beef and cheese combination is extremely tasty and there is nothing like dipping the sandwich into the mouth-watering au jus. Just add a salad or vegetable as a side to the French dip sandwiches, and you have yourself a quick, easy, and delicious dinner.

French Dip Sandwiches

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Ingredients (makes two sandwiches):

-1 standard can (about 2 cups) of French onion soup

-1.5 cups of beef broth

-Approximately 1 pound of medium cut roast beef (half pound per sandwich)

-2 six-inch hoagie/sub rolls

-Your choice of cheese – enough to put on both sandwiches (I used two pieces of sliced provolone)

Directions:

-Take the roast beef out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature while you’re preparing the au jus.

-Preheat your oven to a high broil (for toasting the bread and cheese).

-In a medium sized pot, combine the French onion soup and the beef broth and bring to a boil, uncovered.

-Keep the mixture at a rolling boil for about ten minutes.

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-During this time, place your preferred choice of cheese on the hoagie/sub rolls and bake until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. You want to time this right so the roast beef ends up on warm and toasted bread. It’s not the end of the world if you need to pop the bread/cheese back in the oven to ensure a toasted sandwich.

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-After the ten minutes has elapsed, turn the burner down to medium-low until the contents have stopped boiling (this is important because you don’t want to put the beef in when the au jus is too hot or else it will toughen the meat).

-Once the au jus stops boiling, take the meat for sandwich and dunk it in the pot for about thirty seconds—you really don’t need the beef to cook in the au jus for that long. With tongs, take the beef out and place it on your toasted bun with cheese. Make sure to grab some of the onions from the French onion soup mixture.

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-Repeat the last step for the second sandwich.

-Carefully ladle out the au jus into a small bowl – I used about 1/3 of a cup of au jus per sandwich – and serve on the side with the sandwich.

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-Lastly, Enjoy!

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I Heart Raspberry Pie

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They say Valentine’s Day is a day of romance, but please, we all know this love fest of a holiday is all about the sweet treats and chocolate—at least it is to me. Since everyone and their mother elects to go out to dinner on February 14th, I’ve found that staying in and avoiding the crowds results in a much more enjoyable and relaxed Valentine’s Day. Consequently, Valentine’s Day has become our little excuse to eat our favorite foods for dinner, enjoy a nice cocktail, and indulge in an obligatory Valentine’s Day themed dessert—or just loads of chocolate (or both).

Due to the fact that I’m in mid-move and my kitchen is packed up into twelve different boxes, my cooking and baking has been relegated from detail and order to haphazard and low maintenance. With this in mind, I decided to make this Valentine’s Day dessert an easy one, but tasteful nonetheless.

I was lucky enough to find my pie dishes before the rest of my bake ware, which made the decision easy: a pie with a red berry filling. Since we aren’t in peak season for berries, I opted for a raspberry pie using frozen raspberries. I’ve always been impressed with the way frozen berries bake and they are extremely convenient—especially in the off-season.

A raspberry/red pie doesn’t necessarily scream “Happy Valentine’s Day,” however, a raspberry/red pie with mini heart pieces of dough serving as a top piecrust does. I used a standard piecrust and cut out mini heart shaped pieces and systematically placed them on top of the raspberry filling. Don’t have a cookie cutter? Me neither, so I entrusted my DIY skills to make one out of the end of a paper towel role. Yes, you read that right, and my paper towel heart shaped cookie cutter exceeded even my expectations.

The hearts served as a perfect pie topping and made the pie more attuned with the whole Valentine’s Day theme. Not only was my heart pie pleasing to the eyes, it tasted incredible with its perfect combination of sweetness and that hint of tart from the berries. It was an extremely easy dessert to prepare, making the experience all the more sweet.

Wishing you all have a Valentine’s Day filled with love and food!

Raspberry Pie

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Ingredients + Materials:

-Smaller sized heart shaped cookie cutter (I used the end of a paper towel roll that I shaped into a heart. Wrap the edges in tin foil if you think it to be more sanitary).

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-Parchment paper

-2 9-inch piecrusts

-Approximately 5 cups of raspberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, I suggest letting the berries thaw for about an hour prior to baking time)

-1 1/4 cups of sugar plus another tbsp of sugar

-1.5 tbsp lemon juice

-2 tbsp of half and half (I used fat-free)

-1 tbsp of butter, cut into thin slices

-2 tbsp of corn starch

Directions:

-Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

-If your berries are frozen, take them out of the freezer and pour them into a colander. Leave the berries in the colander for about an hour—just enough time that some of the excess water is released.

-Pour the raspberries into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the one and a quarter cup of sugar, the lemon juice, half and half, butter, and corn starch. Mix well with a spatula until all the ingredients are well incorporated.

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-Roll one of the piecrusts onto the pie dish. Cut off any of the extra dough from the crust, if needed.

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-Place a large piece of parchment paper onto a flat surface and roll the second piecrust over the parchment paper.

-With your cookie cutter (or mock cookie cutter, in my instance), cut out your heart shapes. Make sure you don’t leave too much room in between each heart, or else you may have to roll out the dough for your last few hearts. I used 26 hearts, but depending on how you place them on the pie, you may need a few more or a few less.

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-Pour the raspberry filling onto the piecrust/pie dish.

-Place the hearts with the top of the heart touching the edge of the pie. Proceed to lay down the hearts all along the perimeter of the pie. If you need to move some of the hearts, just make sure you’re careful—you don’t want to drown the heart.

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-Once the outer border of hearts is complete, it’s time for the second set of hearts. You won’t be able to line them up perfectly with the border, so just try and make a second circle. You want to leave a little bit of space in between each heart.

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-Once the second set of hearts is finished, it’s time to complete the center. I only had room for three hearts, so I placed them in the shape of a three-leaf clover.  Note that there is no wrong way to decorate the top of your pie.

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-Take the extra tbsp of sugar and lightly sprinkle over the top of the pie as evenly as possible.

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-Bake your pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

-Lower the temperature to 350 and bake for additional 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.

-Let the pie cool for about an hour before serving (you can serve it sooner, the pie just may be a bit runny). To ensure your pie is perfectly set, let it sit out for a few hours before enjoying.

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