Realistic Cooking Ideas

for Busy People! And sharing our life adventures along the way!

Happy New Year Everyone! The past couple of years there have not been many posts by Realistic Cooking Ideas due to personal reasons. I am resuming blogging but under a new blog called Supper Plate.

This blog will contain some of the recipes from Realistic Cooking Ideas that will be revised and many new recipes! I anticipate closing down this blog later this year so please be sure to follow me at Supper Plate! Two recipes have been posted. The new blog should also be mobile friendly – yes I am in the early stages of setting up Supper Plate so everything might not be in place.

 

I hope you join me at Supper Plate and I look forward to reading everyone posts and getting reconnected!

 

Cranberry and Toasted Pecans Holiday Bread

Dark Chocolate, Walnut, and Banana Oatmeal Muffins

One of the things I love about cooking is you can take a recipe, modify it, and it has a whole new look and taste. Potato Soup is a great dish for modifications. This year I used bacon, fresh parsley, fresh chives, and white cheddar cheese for a wonderful blend of flavors!
Potato Soup side view

It can be made thicker like a stew or more soup like depending upon how much milk and half and half added. Start with a conservative amount as you can always add more milk. The bacon can be mixed with the soup or added on the top as an garnish. Or do both!

Potato Soup served in a bowl closeup

This is one time I tend to add more salt as potato soup needs salt!
Potato Soup served in a bowl closeup 2

This soup is good for a few days but the Quality will be reduced since it is milk based if kept too long. A large batch was made for a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon with my department at work. It warmed up nicely in the microwave and stayed warm in the slow cooker.
Potato Soup in Slow Cooker

I find reheating it a few times only adds to the flavor. Adding the bacon to the soup adds that needed salt and fat. Fresh herbs are always a great idea! Layering of all the ingredients made this the best Potato Soup ever!

Sauté Ingredients:
2 tbsp. of Irish butter
3 cups Sliced Onions
1 cup Diced Onions
2 cups Celery, chopped

Step 2 Ingredients:
11 cups (about 5 pounds) Potatoes, washed, peeled, and cubed
3 cups (about 2 pounds) Carrots, chopped
1 Chicken Bouillon Cube
4 to 5 cups of Milk, 2%
1 tsp. Garlic, diced
Ground White Pepper & Salt

Step 3 Ingredients:
1 – 2 cups Grated White Cheddar Cheese
2 cups or 1 pint Light Half and Half
Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Topping:
Parsley
Chives

Preparation:
Melt butter in a large soup pot and add onions and celery – cook until tender. Add step 2 ingredients and bring to a soft boil, then lower heat and simmer for 1 – 2 hours, stirring periodically. When potatoes are tender add step 3 ingredients based upon how you like your potato soup! Cook on low for about a half hour. Serve with fresh parsley and chives!

I really baby my slow-cooked meals and this Guinness Beef Stew is not an exception! As a bonus, this is the best version of Guinness Beef Stew that I ever made! It has a wonderful full flavor with a bit of sweetness. Most stews need to sit a day or two for the flavors to really blend. But not this stew! It is fantastic from the stove top to the dinner table! So there is still time for you to make this for St. Patrick’s Day.

Guinness Irish Beef Stew plated top view

I was inspired to change my Guinness Beef Stew from an Irish cook show I watched on Recipe TV. Guinness Storehouse Executive Chef Justin O’Connor presented several recipes made with Guinness and explained when he uses different types of Guinness. Did you know that Guinness was established in 1759! That is just amazing the long history of Guinness. Someone once said to me that Guinness is the fruit of the gods. My preference is a dry, red wine – however I do love Guinness!

Guinness Irish Beef Stew plated side view

I am really inspired by Executive Chef Justin – for more on him click here. Now we just need a cookbook from him!

Guinness Irish Beef Stew in a bowl

The key is a thick beef stock otherwise you will need to add flour to thicken the sauce. Plus using Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Also consider serving it with Champ Potatoes.

Guinness Irish Beef Stew in a bowl close up

Below are guidelines from Executive Chef Justin on what type of Guinness to use when cooking and baking.

Guinness Draught
guinness draught 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is great for soda breads and desserts. It has a coffee and caramel flavors.

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout
GuinnessForeignExtraStout
This Guinness has extra alcohol that turns into more sugar when cooking. It has a wonderful balance of sweet and the roasted flavor of the hops.

Guinness Extra Stout
guinness extra stout

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a nice light, refreshing Guinness that is wonderful with a seafood recipe.
Guinness Irish Beef Stew in a bowl 2

The Guinness Beef Stew after the Guinness is added.
Guinness Irish Beef Stew on stovetop with Guinness added

After adding veggies:
Guinness Irish Beef Stew on stovetop with veggies added

And the final version!
Guinness Irish Beef Stew on stovetop finished

Now on to our recipe!

Beef Roast Ingredients:
2 tbsp canola oil, divided
3 pounds whole boneless beef chuck roast, cut into chunks
2 Onions, quartered
2 Carrots, sliced lengthwise
2 Celery Stalks, sliced lengthwise
Lawry Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup Beef Stock (the best you can buy – or make it!
1/4 cup Strong Brewed Coffee
1 ounce 70% Cocoa Chocolate
1 Pint of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout
1 bouquet garnis (about 3 sprigs rosemary, 3 sprigs parsley, and 2 bay leaves – I place mine in a large tea bag filter)
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Roasting Ingredients:
3 cups Carrots, chopped
2 cups Parsnips, chopped
1 Medium Sweet Potato, chopped
1 cup Celery, chopped (Optional)
Celery root, chopped (Optional)
Pearl Onions (Optional)

Garnish Ingredients:
Flat-leaf Parsley Leaves
Rosemary sprigs

Beef Roast Preparation:
In a large braising pan, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Season beef with Lawry salt and freshly ground pepper and add to braising pan. Cook, turning occasionally, until beef is well browned on 2 sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer beef to a plate.

Add carrots and onions to the braising pan and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned.

Add sauce ingredients and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Add beef. Cook for 1 ½ hours, mixing periodically.

Final Cooking Step:
Add the Roasting Ingredients and cook for another 30-minutes or until veggies are tender. Discard bouquet garnis, large carrots and celery stalks. Using a ladle, skim off and discard accumulated fat on surface. Serve with mashed potatoes and crusty bread.

Is everyone getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day? I found this wonderful recipe that was adapted from Recipe TV. Now I will not claim it is authentic since there are US substitutions and I am sure there are “secrets” that the Irish have that are not shared! But this recipe is so easy to make and is delicious. You could serve it with Irish butter, honey, jams, or just enjoy as it is! After mixing the ingredients it is more like a batter than a bread dough. It can be baked in two loaf pans, a long narrow pan, or even round cake pans!

Guinness Irish Soda Bread plated 2

This Irish Soda Bread is so good that it will not last long!
Guinness Irish Soda Bread sliced

The kitchen is filled with a wonderful aroma as it is baking and then cooling!
Guinness Irish Soda Bread cooling out of the ovent

Preparations are underway for St. Patrick’s Day! A new mini scone maker, scones cookbook, and some English Double Devron Cream that I am interested in trying! I am interested in hearing what everyone serves their scones with. Clotted cream, jams, butter? Do you serve with a hot cup of tea? In the UK do you typically serve tea with scones or other types of breads?

st patricks day preparation

Over the years I have shared a lot of recipes and below are a few that you may enjoy for St. Patrick’s Day! This Irish Potato Cake is awesome and loaded with spices!
Irish Potato Cake

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes are awesome and festive for a party!
Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes Cover

Irish Shamrock Chewy Cut Out Cookies were one of my favorites since I adore a chewy cut out cookie! They were fun to make and decorate.
Irish Shamrock cut out cookies final

A nice Guinness Beef Stew with Parsnips and Turnips served with Cheddar Herb Dumplings was also yummy! This year I am trying a slightly different version of Guinness Beef Stew.
Guinness Beef Stew with Turnips and Parnsips cheddar herb dumplings plated

Did you see my Wordless Wednesday picture and video of the vehicle that became an ice sculpture when large waves from Lake Erie were breaking over to a parking lot on a freezing cold day? Click here for the picture and video. Well good news! The owner got his car out of the frozen ice with little damage! Click here for the story and there is a link to a few pictures. And if you click here for a short video of them freeing the vehicle! Just a little winter fun in the snow belts!

Chicken pot pie ready for the freezer - 2

Today’s recipe is one of my favorites – Chicken Pot Pie! Especially with the cold winter weather we are experiencing! I remember when my husband and I were first dating we had dinner with his brother and wife. What do you think I ordered? Well it was Chicken Pot Pie and his brother was rather surprised! Unfortunately ordering Chicken Pot Pie in a restaurant can be hit or miss. There are so many ways to make this dish and it can be high in calories and fat. For this recipe I made a large batch in order to freeze a few meals. It took me an afternoon since I cooked the chicken and use fresh vegetables – except for the peas. (I like to roast the vegetables in the oven.) This recipe is a babied dish – an afternoon dedicated to taste tests and adding more of certain ingredients until it is just right! If your time is limited you can always substitute a rotisserie chicken and use frozen vegetables.

Chicken Pot Pie Crustless

There are a lot of options when it comes to the crust. A great option is to use puff pastry – just slice, place on a tray and bake. Topping with a biscuit is another nice option. The thickening agent for this recipe is a can of condensed cream of chicken – but substituting potato starch could also be used among other options.

When cooking the chicken the herbs add a lot of flavor. One way of making a herb pack is to use cheesecloth or a loose tea bag (my method) to add the herbs. As always, the vegetable ingredients are approximate. When stirring the vegetables if there isn’t enough variety to the color – just add more of the missing color (vegetable)!

Chicken Pot Pie stovetop

This made 1 large pot pie, 2 individual medium-sized servings plus 6 smaller pot pies for the freezer – some of them will be served with puff pie topping or with no crust!

Chicken Pot Pie out of the oven

Chicken Pot Pie ready for the freezer

Chicken pot pie almost gone

Chicken Ingredients:
4 – 6 Chicken Breasts or 5-cups shredded
A few slices of Sweet Onion
Seasoned Salt
Pepper, freshly ground
Herb pack of: Thyme and Rosemary
Bay Leaf

Vegetable Ingredients:
Olive Oil
1 cup Sweet Onion, diced
1 cup Celery, chopped
2 cups Carrot, chopped and roasted
1 cup Red Potatoes, chopped and roasted
1 cup Butternut Squash, chopped and roasted
2 cups Green Beans, chopped
1 ½ cups Sweet Peas

Sauce Ingredients:
2 cans Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
4 cups Low-sodium Chicken Broth, Plus More If Needed
½ cup Sherry
1 cup Half-and-half
Bay Leaf
1 tbsp Herbed Poultry Seasoning Blend
Seasoned Salt And Fresh Pepper, to taste

Crust Ingredients:
Unbaked Pie Crust or
Puff Pastry Crust or
Biscuit Topping

Directions:
Shredded Chicken Preparation:
In a large skillet add water to cover the bottom. Add chicken, herb pack, bay leaf, seasoned salt and pepper. Add more water if needed to cover the chicken. Cover and cook the chicken until it is tender enough to shred. It took about an hour. Shred the chicken using two forks or your favorite method!

Vegetables Preparation:
If desired, roast the vegetables in the oven (carrots, potatoes, and butternut squash) to bring out their flavors. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Shake vegetables in olive oil, place on a pan and bake until tender – stirring at least once.

Pot Pie Preparation:
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat, then add the onion and celery. Cook for a few minutes. Add vegetables and herbs. In a separate bowl mix together condensed cream of chicken with some of the chicken stock. Then add to the soup pot with more chicken stock. Cook for about 30-minutes, covered. Add half-and-half and cook for about 30-minutes, covered. Add cooked, shredded chicken, sherry, and warm through for about 30-minutes, covered. Remove cover and simmer while preheating the oven and preparing the pie pot pans. If it becomes too thick add a bit more of the half-and-half – but don’t make it too thin either!

Baking Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Roll out the pie crust and prepare your chosen pot pie pans. For freezing it is nice to use individual pot pie aluminum pans that can be frozen and then placed in the oven when needed or microwave safe bowls. Divide chicken pot pie mixture across the pot pie pans, add remaining dough to top and cut little vents. Bake for about 30-minutes. It can be best to cover the dough to foil so they do not get too brown especially when freezing since they will need to be reheated in the oven. If desired prepare an egg wash and brush the dough topping before baking.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Years and that 2016 is the best year ever for you and your family! This New Years I tried a new recipe for Scallops by making a citrus ginger sauce serving them with a wild rice. They came out delicious. But there is a step that would be eliminated. I dusted the sea scallops with a seasoned flour that I often use to brown meats when searing on the stove top. The seasoned flour interfered with the scallops browning nicely. They got a little brown but not as much as we prefer. But of course we need to remember that with professional food photography they would prepare a lot of scallops picking out all the perfect ones for the photo shoot! How do you brown your scallops? Do you just use some olive oil heated in a heavy pan?

Sea Scallops with Citrus Ginger Sauce Plated on stovetop

I like to make my sauce in a small sauce pan and then I poured a little over the sea scallops once they were done with reserving the remaining sauce for plating. The pan is fairly hot with some of the sauce evaporating – not sure if I would do this again or not as we like a lot of sauce! I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light. I used ground ginger but you could use fresh and of course there are a lot of other ingredients you could consider adding!

Sea Scallops with Citrus Ginger Sauce Plated

Sea Scallops Ingredients
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
3/4 pounds Sea Scallops

Orange Ginger Sauce Ingredients
1/4 cup Orange Juice
1 tbsp. Orange Liqueur
1/4 cup Mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tbsp. Lemon Juice
2 tbsp. Soy Sauce, low sodium
1/2 tsp. Ground ginger
Salt

Finishing Sauce Ingredients
1/2 tsp. Arrowroot
1 tbsp. Butter

Garnish Ingredients
Top with Chives

Orange Ginger Sauce Preparation
Place all ingredients except for the arrowroot in a small sauce pan and heat. Just before serving add the butter then the arrowroot cooking for a few minutes to thicken the sauce.

Sea Scallops Preparation
Rinse the scallops and dry thoroughly. Heat olive oil in a heavy pan. Place scallops in pan and cook on both sides until they reach the desired temperature. Plate scallops and top with orange ginger sauce and chives or your choice of garnish. Then serve immediately!

With the holiday season upon us, it is always nice to make a few desserts. I love Chocolate cake but not all the calories and unhealthy ingredients. This recipe is just awesome as there are a few healthier ingredients and it is moist! I am not sure if you would find this recipe in a health magazine but it works for me! Instead of using vegetable oil – use unsweetened applesauce. A great substitute for whenever you are baking.
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanutbutter Icing

I selected a lighter icing, as we do not care for a heavy, sweet icing. Plus you can make the icing thinner to drizzle it over the cake or add less unsweetened Almond Milk to keep it thicker.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanutbutter Icing 3

You can store the cake without any icing and then when you slice and plate it, drizzle some of the chocolate peanut butter icing over it. Plus this makes a wonderful cake to take to a party since you can add the icing afterwards – not so messy to travel.

Chocolate Cake sliced 2

I made this cake for my mother’s birthday and I did add the icing at home. I added four toothpicks to help keep the two layers together since the icing was a thinner consistency.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanutbutter Icing with candles

Can you see how moist this cake is?
Chocolate Cake sliced 3

The cake can be served as a layer cake or leave as two separate cakes.
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanutbutter Icing Cut in Squares

If only I had a slice right now! Yummy! So sad it is all gone!
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanutbutter Icing 2

What is your favorite go to cake recipe?

Cake Ingredients
2 cups Flour, plus more for pans
2 cups Sugar
3/4 cups Cocoa Powder
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Kosher Salt

Wet Ingredients
1 cup Buttermilk, shaken and at room temperature
1 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
2 extra-large Eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla

Coffee Ingredients
1 cup Freshly Brewed Hot Coffee

Icing Ingredients
⅔ cup Natural Peanut Butter
4 tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 tsp. Vanilla
About ¾ cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk
Honey if you want a Sweeter Icing

Cake Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans with a non-stick spray. Line with parchment paper, then spray and flour the pans.

Sift the cake ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the cake ingredients and mix until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Be careful since I found after sifting the dry ingredients the resulting mixture was light and fluffy. My first attempt at adding the wet mixture was a bit messy with cake mixture flying out of the bowl!

Add the coffee and stir just to combine. Then pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in the pans then remove to a cooling rack to fully cool. Placing in the refrigerator can also help when you ice the cake. You can make this icing as thin or as thick as you like it. Just add less of the unsweetened almond milk for a thicker consistency.

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