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Dinners, desserts to end cold days

Slow cooker beef bourguignon has a crazy tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef and hearty veggies slow cooked to perfection in a rich sauce. This meal is comforting and perfect for the remaining chilly days before spring!

Slow cooker beef bourguignon

Servings: 6

5 slices bacon finely chopped

3 pounds boneless beef chuck cut to 1 inch cubes

1 cup red wine

2 cups low sodium beef broth

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup flour

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 tablespoons thyme finely chopped

1 tablespoon rosemary finely chopped

5 medium Carrots sliced

1 pound baby potatoes

8 ounces fresh mushrooms sliced

1 bag frozen pearl onions

fresh chopped parsley for garnish

In a large skillet cook bacon over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from the pan and place in a slow cooker. Salt and pepper the beef. Sear the beef in the skillet in a small batch and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes per batch. Transfer beef to the slow cooker.

Add the red wine to the skillet scraping down the brown bits on the side. Allow it to simmer and reduce and slowly add beef broth, tomato sauce, and soy sauce. Slowly whisk in the flour. Add the sauce to the slow cooker. Add garlic, thyme, and rosemary.

Add garlic, thyme, rosemary carrots, potatoes, pearl onions and mushrooms to the slow cooker. Give it a good stir and cook on low until beef is tender for 8-9 hours or high for 6-Garnish with fresh parsley.

Note: I added the carrots, potatoes, pearl onions, and mushrooms to the slow cooker halfway through the cooking time as I preferred my vegetables firm.

-Karen Sick

I was going through my recipes the other week and I found an old classic. March can still be a wild card month with temperature fluctuations, so I thought this recipe would be perfect for those still-chilly days.

Shepherd’s pie

For the potatoes:

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes

1/4 cup half and half

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 cup sour cream

salt and pepper to taste

For the meat filling:

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 carrots, peeled and diced small

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 pound ground lamb or meat of choice

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn

1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas

Peel the potatoes and dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set on a high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until fork tender, approximately 20-25 minutes. Once cooked, drain the potatoes in a colander then return to the pot. Add the half and half and butter, sour cream and salt and pepper and mash with an electric hand held mixer until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the oil into a 12 inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add your meat of choice, salt and pepper and cook until meat is browned and cooked through, approximately 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the meat mixture and pour evenly into a 13×9 inch baking pan. Top with mash potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie tray with edges and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Take out of the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before cutting.

Hint: This can be a gluten free recipe, just replace the regular flour with gluten-free flour. I used half ground lamb and half meatloaf mix for my shepherds pie but you can also use ground beef or ground turkey. The choice is yours. I also omitted the peas and corn, and used petite green beans as well as sauteed a container of mushrooms and mixed them into my meat mixture. You really can add or take out of this recipe what you prefer. This is a complete meal in one pan — just add a salad and dinner is served.

-Pam Rolley

Now that we have dinner covered, what about dessert?

Blueberry lemon whoopie pies

For the cookies:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/3 cup milk

3/4 cup fresh blueberries

For the Filling:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened\

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Beat the butter and sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg until combined, scraping down the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture and milk in 3 alternating batches. Fold in the blueberries with a rubber spatula.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Arrange mounds of batter, about 1 tablespoon each, 2 inches apart; smooth tops with a damp finger. Chill until firm, 30 minutes. Bake cookies until lightly golden, 18 minutes rotating the pan halfway through the baking cycle. When done let cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese, butter, lemon zest, juice and vanilla with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the confectioners sugar on low speed until combined. Spread 2 tablespoons of filling on the flat side of 6 cookies and sandwich with the remaining cookies. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered overnight.

Hint: You can make these gluten free by swapping out the all-purpose flour for gluten-free flour. Make sure your confectioners sugar is gluten free. For the cookies I only used 1/3 cup sugar instead of the 2/3 cup and they were sweet enough. The filling has such a nice mild lemon smell and taste to it combined with the blueberry cookies it’s a perfect combination. When I serve them, I cut them in half — they are pretty large — or you can just keep them whole depending on your appetite. I hope these two recipes inspire you to get up and go in the kitchen and start cooking. Believe me, your family will thank you for it.

-Pam Rolley

This raspberry white chocolate scone recipe is delicious and easy to make.

White chocolate raspberry scones

Servings: 8

1/2 cup cold butter, 1 stick

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream plus 1-2 tablespoons additional for brushing on the scones

1 cup fresh raspberries

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1-2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Grate the cold butter with a cheese grater using the coarse side for larger shreds of butter. Place the grated butter in the freezer to chill while you move on to the next step.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

Add the chilled, grated butter to the flour mixture and lightly blend into the flour with a fork. Do not over mix! You want many lumps of butter and you do not want the butter fully incorporated into the flour mixture.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and 2/3 cup of heavy cream. Add the wet mixture to the flour and butter mixture; stir just until combined, but do not over mix.

Add the fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips and fold into the dough with a spatula. Many of the berries will break down as you fold, but do not over mix until all of the berries break down.

Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a disk. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and place in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

After the dough has chilled, remove it from the freezer and place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently press the dough into a circle, 1-inch in thickness.

Use a sharp knife to cut the dough circle into 8 wedges. Using a narrow spatula, move the dough triangles slightly out from the circle to give at least 1/2 inch of space between each scone. (This can be tricky because the dough is very soft. After moving the dough triangles, simply reshape the scones with your fingers if needed.)

Brush the top of each scone with heavy cream using a pastry brush. Sprinkle each scone with turbinado sugar.

Bake the scones at 425 F for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve the scones warm with butter, or raspberry jam and clotted cream.

-Karen Sick

The Recipe Gals, Pam Rolley and Karen Sick, together have more than 60 years’ experience as nutritionists in the public school and university settings. You’ll find their delicious offerings every other week in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette’s section, The Taste.

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