Archive for December, 2010


Something to Warm You Up

December 7, 2010

Do you remember those salted caramel chocolate squares I made?

My friend Carol told me how wonderful the Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate is after that post.  Unfortunately, I’m not a big Starbucks fan.  I think there stuff is overpriced and not that tasty.  Please don’t hate me.  I’m more of a Dunkin’ Donuts fan and they don’t have something like that on the menu.

I was so excited by the hot cocoa that Carol talked about that I decided to make it at home.  I’m not sure if it’s the same as Starbucks but I don’t care.  This is a very tasty cocoa.

Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa

  • 2 T Cocoa, rounded
  • 1/2 C Half and Half
  • 1/2 C Milk
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract
  • Whipped Cream
  • 1/8 t Course Sea Salt
  • 4 T Caramel Sauce, heated and divided

Heat the half and half and milk to scald it.  You can adjust the amount of half and half and milk to your taste.  I usually but in more half and half than milk to give the cocoa a richer taste. Add the cocoa and vanilla.  Whisk well.  Turn off heat.  Sprinkle a pinch of salt in 2 T of Caramel.  Swirl and line the inside of the cup with the salted caramel.  Pour the hot cocoa in the cup.  Top with whipped cream, additional caramel sauce and the remaining salt.

Sit back and enjoy.

This makes one serving.


My New Favorite Soup

December 5, 2010

I saw an episode of the Best Thing I Ever Ate where they talked about garlic soup.

I had to try it.  I looked around for a recipe and came up with this soup.

I know I’ve told you how much I love soup before, but this is my all time favorite soup.  I could actually just stand over the pot and eat over the stove.

It’s creamy and flavorful.  The prep time is a little longer than most soups because of the garlic, but trust me it’s so worth it.  I could eat this soup once a week and not get tired of it.

I wish that you could stand in my kitchen and enjoy the wonderful smell of this soup right now.

Garlic Soup

  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 2 T Butter
  • 2 lbs (about 4) Onions, sliced and quartered
  • 4 Large Heads of Garlic, chopped
  • 2 quarts Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 Loaf of day-old French Bread, cubed
  • 1 Bouqet Garni: 6 Parsley Stems and 9 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme tied together with a string or 1 1/2 t dried thyme and 1 bay leaf in cheese cloth
  • 1 1/2 t Truffle Salt
  • 2 C Half and Half
  • Pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil and butter over low heat.  Add the onions and garlic.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and beginning to turn golden, about 30-40 minutes.  Raise the heat and continue to cook the onion/garlic mixture uncovered, stirring frequently, until deep golden, about 10-15 minutes longer.  Add the broth, bread, bouquet garni, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove the bouquet garni and puree the soup in a blender.  Strain the soup and put back in the pot.  Add the half and half and bring back to a boil. 

You can serve with croutons and your favorite bread.

Or you could just stand over your stove like I did until my husband caught me.

Serves 6.



December 4, 2010

The snow kept me close to home this weekend.  I was planning to travel to Madison Wisconsin to see my friend Angel today but the snow came early this morning and never let up. 

We moved on to plan B.

We went to see Santa.  The big man. The head honcho. The connection.

We take the train into Chicago every year and see the Santa at Daley Plaza.  You have to wait outside but it’s worth the wait.  I love the fact that it’s warm in cozy in his little house.  I love that they never push you out too quickly.  I also love that I can take as many pictures as I want.

Santa has thrown me under the bus on occasion, case in point that horrible girl gourmet cupcake maker two years ago, but he’s a busy guy and that’s okay.

I remember the first time that I went downtown to see the Christmas decorations.  My kindergarten class went to see the windows at Marshall Field’s.  My first field trip.  My first trip in an elevator.  I still don’t like elevators.  I work on the 5th floor and walk up and down every day instead riding in one.

Marshall Field’s had the best Christmas windows.  Truly.  Even as I got older, I still enjoyed the wonder of those windows every year.

Macy’s is there now and it just isn’t the same.   They promised to keep up the window tradition, but I don’t think they are using the same designer.   We saw the few windows today and I think it’s our last year doing it. 

Daley Plaza has a wonder Christmasfest though.  It’s called Christkindlmarket.  Lots of venders and great food bratwurst, potato pancakes, mulled wine, hot chocolate.  You get the idea. 

Here she is waiting patiently for Santa.  We were first in line.  Yeah!

Meeshie was so nervous this year that she only asked for one thing, an iPod touch.  I hope Santa has enough room on the sleigh for that.

My two favorite people in front the tree.  The tree was huge this year.  A family donated it.  You gotta love the city that works.

While we are downtown, we also make our annual trip to Garrett’s.  I introduced my husband to their popcorn a few years ago.  He’s addicted to it, so the annual trip is his only ration. Which isn’t a bad thing.  We could it eat morning, noon and night. It’s the best popcorn ever. 

A beautiful snow fall, a train trip downtown, visit to Santa and Garrett’s.  Not a bad day.  Not the day I had planned but I’m not complaining.

Merry Christmas.


Dry Aged Prim Rib Roast Revisited

December 2, 2010

It’s the holiday season and I’ve decided to revisit a great meal.

I posted about this wonderful meal in the spring because I’ve made it for Easter before.  But I’ve made this for Christmas and New Years’ too.

It’s one of those really great dishes that seems like you’ve slaved all day with but didn’t.  You just need to plan a little ahead of time.  That’s why I’m revisiting it now. 

Have you ever dry aged meat before?  It’s very simple and the flavor is out of this world.  The meat melts in your mouth it’s so incredibly tender.  The flavor from the rub is amazing as well.  The onions and carrots are so tender and so flavorful.  Oh, and the leftovers, if you have any, make the best sandwich ever.

I’ve even made this rub for steak in the summer.  I love a good dry rub.

Dry Aged Prime Rib Roast

  • 1 whole Prime Rib Roast, Bone In About 10-12 Pounds
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 5 whole Carrots, Chopped To About 2 Inches In Length
  • 2 whole Onion, Medium Sized And coarsely Diced
  • 1-½ Tablespoon Dried Rosemary
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1-½ Tablespoon Garlic, Granulated
  • 1-½ Tablespoon Minced Onion
  • 3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • Rinse the roast and dry completely. Wrap in cheesecloth. Place on a rack on a sheet pan in the back of the fridge fat side up. After 24 hours replace the cheesecloth with a new one and place the roast back in the fridge for 9 to 11 days. I put it in the spare fridge and forget about it.  the longer it sits the better.

    Remove the roast from the fridge, unwrap and trim it. You want to cut off all the discolored parts. Rub the roast in the olive oil. Mix the spices together for the rub and rub it all over the roast. Let the roast reach room temperature.

    Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a roasting pan with some carrots and onions. Place the roast on top of the vegetables and add some water to the bottom of the pan to line it.

    Now you can put the roast in the oven and cook it for an hour and then turn off the oven for 2 1/2 hours making sure to leave the oven door closed. Or you can put the roast in the 500 degree oven and immediately turn the heat down to 450 degrees and cook it for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, turn the oven down to 275 degrees and cook for 2 hours. I’ve done it both ways and each way makes a perfect medium-rare roast. If you don’t like medium-rare, adjust cooking time accordingly.

    Let the roast rest for 15 minutes before you cut into it. Make sure to serve it with the carmelized carrots and onions.

    You can make an au jus with the pan drippings, but I never have.  The roast is just so good alone.

    Au Jus

    • 1 1/2 C Pan Drippings from the roast
    • 3/4 C Red Wine
    • 2 C Beef Stock
    • 3 T Butter
    • Salt and Pepper

    Strain the drippings from the roasting pan, skim the fat.  Place the roasting pan on 2 burners on medium-high and add the drippings.  Stir to deglaze, add the wine and stock.  Reduce by 1/3, about 5 minutes on a steady boil, stirring occasionally.  Turn off the heat and add the butter.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with the roast.

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