The Best Beef Stew Ever

I have been making this stew, and variations of it for years. I couldn’t possibly pinpoint the original recipe, I can only say that it has been toyed with and changed through the years to my liking, and I am in l-o-v-e with it. This is my go-to dinner for dreary, cold fall/winter/spring nights, when you are craving some good ol’ comfort food, and you want your belly full.

No, it is not diet friendly per se, but it’s not horrible either, it does have veggies in it! The only thing I ask is that you do not, for the love of all things yummy, forget to serve this with fresh crusty bread and butter. You might as well not even eat this if you don’t have that yummy goodness to dip into the gravy and scrape your bowl. Trust me on this one. Remember? Years to perfect this recipe, I know my shizz.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cubed beef stew meat
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 cubes beef bouillon, crumbled
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce (I actually use jerk chicken sauce)
  • 1-1/2 large potatoes, cubed (I don’t peel mine, but thats personal preference)
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 can peas
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cold water

Directions

  1. make sure you do your prep first, I find that if everything is chopped and ready to go, this is much smoother of a process. Have your onion, celery, potato and carrots in a large bowl together, all chopped and ready to go.
  2. In a large Ziploc bag, combine: flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt. Toss the stewing beef into this mixture and shake, ensuring to coat the meat evenly.
  3. In a large pot (I use a dutch oven), heat the vegetable oil and butter over medium heat.
  4. Dump the entire contents of the Ziploc bag into the hot oil, cooking the meat over medium heat until brown. (keep an eye on it, burns easily!)
  5. Add the red wine to the meat, and de-glaze the pan (aka scrape all the good stuff off the bottom ,and stir it all around). Next, add the 3-4 cups of water, your beef bouillon, rosemary, parsley, ketchup and BBQ sauce.
  6. Bring the mixture to a running boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, again stirring occasionally.
  7. Stir in your potatoes, carrots, celery and onion mixture. Stir for a few minutes, ensuring even distribution. Cover the pot again, and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Make sure to taste the ‘broth’ of the stew, and add salt/pepper/BBQ sauce if it needs more flavor, do this at your own discretion.
  8. Drain the can of peas, and toss them into the mixture. In a mug, combine the cornstarch and cold water, making a paste. Whisk this into the stew for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  9. Spoon into large bowls, and serve with fresh crusty bread and butter. Enjoy!

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Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Bowties with Chicken and Mozzarella Cheese.

This is another super duper easy and yummy dinner that I make every once in a while. I love it because it doesn’t involve a lot of prep, and most of the ingredients are already around the house. You can change up the sauce, to an Alfredo or tomato sauce, if you are so inclined. I usually try to make a larger portion, because it is also super awesome as leftovers. That coming from the woman who hates leftovers. So there that is.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Bowties with Chicken and Mozzarella Cheese.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1/2 – 3/4 of a box of pasta bowties
  • 1/2 jar of Classico Sun-dried Tomato Pesto 
  • 1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until Al-dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss warm pasta with a bit of olive oil and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Dice chicken into cubes and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook chicken until no longer pink in the center, browning slightly.
  5. Add the pesto and the pasta into the skillet with the chicken. Toss and stir to ensue everything is combined well. Add the pasta water to thin the sauce out a bit and to help things bind better.
  6. Heat for a few minutes, stirring often.
  7. Remove skillet from heat.
  8. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the top of the mixture. Let it stand and the cheese to melt. (You may have to place a lid over everything to get the cheese to melt completely.)
  9. Dig in and try not to eat the entire thing. I dare you.

 

Prosciutto, spinach and ricotta stuffed pasta shells

Yup. You read that right. It’s like a party of flavor in your mouth. You can thank me later.

Ingredients:

1 box of large pasta shells

1 package of Prosciutto, cubed (you could easily omit this for a veggie option)

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 package of frozen, chopped spianch. (thawed and drained)

1 large container of riccota cheese

1 large brick of motzerella cheese, shredded.

2 large eggs, beaten

2 tsp italian seasoning

1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I make my own, but you don’t have to)

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta shells according to directions. You want them to be mostly cooked, but slightly underdone. Drain, toss them in a little bit of olive oil and butter so they do not stick together. Set aside to cool. Some of them will be torn or ruined. That’s OK, you won’t use all of them.
  2. In a large, non stick pan, sautee onions and garlic until tender.
  3. Add the prosciutto into the pan and continue to heat through for a few minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine spinach, Italian seasoning, ricotta cheese, egg and roughly 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese. Combine well.
  5. Stir onion mixture into the bowl and combine well.
  6. line the bottom of a lasagna dish with 1/4 of the spaghetti sauce
  7. Now here is the fun, and messy part. Ready? Place a cooked pasta shell into  the palm of your left hand, scoop some of the spinach mixture (I use my bare hands, some prefer a spoon), and stuff into the shell. This takes a few times to get the hang of it, but it doesn’t have to look pretty. I tend to stuff mine pretty full, so use your discretion.
  8. Line the stuffed shells in the lasagna dish, in a single layer.
  9. pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the shells, topping with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
  10. cover the dish with tin foil and bake at 350F for 25 minutes, removing foil and baking for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

 

Wordless Wednesday: Cookie Edition

Marley is a mini me in every way (you know, aside from the way she looks, but I digress.), and from a very young age she has shown a huge interest in all things cooking/baking. I have really been trying to encourage this as much as I can, but dude that can be hard with a rambunctious and eager two year old. Little hands everywhere, major impatience and intense curiosity are all qualities that I have to juggle while trying to cultivate her creativity. I should have asked for a second and third set of arms for Christmas.

But do we ever have fun in the kitchen, her eyes light up and you can see the glow of pride all around her. We almost always have music going, a little dance party ensues, some singing, and a whole lot of fun. Truly one of my favorite things to do with the Monkey.

 

Christmas 2011 Rocked

Christmas this year was a whirlwind. As I have mentioned multiple times, and can’t seem to stress enough, this year has been full of changes and growth, and it was topped off by a great Christmas surrounded by people I love dearly. Jason and I decided to split Christmas eve and Christmas day between our families, a long time ago, but this year was slightly different. We knew Jason’s parents were going to be alone for the day, and so we decided to invite them to our house, along with my Mum’s side of the family for Christmas day, and split up Christmas eve.

 

We spent Christmas morning on our own, sleeping in because of the late night previously, and Marley’s inability to fully grasp what the morning meant. But boy, once Jason brought her downstairs and she saw what was waiting under the tree, she FLEW over with a look of utter and complete glee. She reveled in her new wagon, princess dolls and a tea set, in complete awe that it was all for her. I can honestly say, there are few things more awesome than watching your young child rip open a wrapped princess doll. My little girl is obsessed and the squeals of delight were awesome.

 

Christmas day was a great afternoon/evening filled with playing, catching up, games, love, and the very first turkey dinner I have ever prepared. I have to say, I did pretty darn well, and am looking forward to improving on it and expanding my recipes in years to come. If there is one thing I love, it’s hosting, and I hope to get a better grasp on that as I gain more experience.

Boxing day was spent with my Dad’s side of the family (which includes my Aunt who is currently battling breast cancer, I will update that soon.), we are a extremely tight knit part of the family and I always cherish my time with them as well. My cousins and I are very close, and our spouses and partners have all become good friends as well, which makes for a great time. The best for me though, is to see my little brother (who is 12) Mason, and my sister (who will be 4) Jaeda, play with Marley. Because they life a few hours away, we don’t get to visit very often, but when we do, it’s always awesome to see them together. On a side note: My Aunt got Marley a play make-up set, which explains the second picture down. It is now hidden in a very high, very concealed, very dark corner of a closet somewhere. Seriously, glitter EVERYWHERE.

 

All in all, we had a great Christmas, if not a little busy. At the moment I feel like I could sleep for a week, and like I should be surviving on lettuce and water for a month after all the eating/drinking I have done. I guess that’s where New Years resolutions come into play…? I hope you and your family had a great Christmas and holiday!

 

Oh, and YAY!!!!! I got a new camera for Christmas! I am now rocking a Canon Rebel T2i, and working hard to learn the in’s and out’s of it. You have been warned about the future picture vomit that will happen on this blog now. :)

Coca-Cola Float Cupcakes

I stumbled across this recipe on the back of a flyer that was in my mail. Seriously.

Now, regularly I am not much of a Coca-Cola fan (or soda in general), but these sounded fun and the whole ‘float’ theme reminded me of my childhood. Try them out, they turned out super yummy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box vanilla cake mix
  • Eggs and oil, per cake mix instructions
  • 1 can Coca-Cola
  • Maraschino cherries

Coca-Cola Buttercream:

  • 1⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 11⁄2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Coca-Cola, plus additional as needed

Vanilla Buttercream:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 21⁄2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Coca-Cola Buttercream Directions:

  1. Beat butter and icing sugar in large bowl until smooth.
  2. Stir in Coca-Cola, adding additional in small drops, if necessary, until frosting is creamy.

Vanilla Buttercream Directions:

  1. Beat butter and icing sugar in large bowl until smooth.
  2. Stir in vanilla and milk until creamy.

Cupcake Directions:

  1. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, substituting Coca- Cola for water.
  2. Pour mixture into lined cupcake tins, bake according to package directions. (or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.)
  3. Allow cupcakes to cool completely on wire rack.
  4. Frost with Coca-Cola buttercream; top with Vanilla buttercream and garnish with maraschino cherry.

Loaded baked potato soup

This is my new obsession, I have made it twice this week. OK, so once was for my sister who is recovering from gallbladder surgery, but I DID sneak a couple bowls from her pot. The recipe is super easy and you can throw it all into the crock-pot to simmer while you are at work. I’ll give a few variations for regular stove top and crock-pot.

 

Ingredients (approx 4-5 servings):

  • 1 package of bacon
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4-5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed (i leave the skins on for extra vitamins)
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Directions

If you want the super easy crock pot way: Throw all ingredients into the crockpot, except bacon. Put on low for 8 hours. Top with bacon sour cream and shredded cheese.

  1. In a large pot, cook chopped bacon until its done to your liking. Remove bacon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Set aside.
  2. Drain 3/4-1/2 of the bacon drippings.
  3. Saute onions and garlic in the remaining drippings until tender.
  4. Add 4-5 tablespoons of flour, salt, pepper and basil. stir well, combining all ingredients. Cook for another minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Add chicken broth, bringing to a boil. Stir well. *At this point, I usually transfer the mixture to the crock-pot (on high for 5 hours), but if you want the faster stove top version, keep it there.*
  6. Add diced potatoes, half and half cream, 1/4cup of sour cream.
  7. Stirring often, heat through until potatoes are tender.
  8. I generally use a potato masher to roughly break up the potatoes during the last 15 minutes.
  9. Garnish soup with a spoonful of sour cream (optional), shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.

*If you want the super easy crock pot way: Throw all ingredients into the crockpot, except bacon. Put on low for 8 hours. Top with bacon sour cream and shredded cheese.

Yum in my tum

Cheesy Chicken Roll Ups (aka not diet food)

I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest (seriously, it’s a foodie’s dream site), realized I had all the ingredients in my kitchen and decided to make it for dinner. Um. Hello goodness. Hello Easy. Hello Toddler heaven.

Cheese Chicken Roll Ups (makes 16 roll ups)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • 1 Can cream of chicken soup
  • 3/4 cup grated cheese of choice (I used tex mex)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 brick of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp room temp  butter
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded. (I used rotisserie chicken, more meals for your buck)
  • 3/4 cup grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 cup grated cheese (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup of milk, 3/4 cup cheese and chicken soup. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Set bowl aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add garlic powder, chicken and 3/4 cup cheese, mix until well combined. Add in 2 tbsp of milk and season with salt and pepper. Set bowl aside.
  5. Place a small amount of the soup mixture (bowl #1) in the bottom of the dish.
  6. Unroll the crescent rolls, separating them. Place a scoop of the chicken mixture on top of each crescent triangle, then roll up starting at the thicker end, tucking ends in.
  7. Place stuffed crescent rolls seam-side down in the casserole dish.
  8. Pour remaining soup mixture over the finished crescent rolls and sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until crescent rolls are golden brown.

I have made a mental note to add some chopped red and green peppers next time, YUM.

Recipe adapted from Plain Chicken

get in my belly

 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli

I have to say, this is one of my favorite recipes I have ever made. Hands down. I know I may say that a lot (I like food), but this one is so yummy, wholesome, healthy and even better the second day. Try it out, the kiddies will like it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box macaroni noodles (I use whole wheat)
  • 12 oz fresh broccoli
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (any kind, I used tex mex)
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1/8 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  • Cook pasta according to package directions, al dente is best. Add broccoli for last 2-3 minutes, to avoid mushy broccoli.
  •  Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent and tender.
  • Add flour, stirring until golden and combined.
  • Whisk in milk and chicken broth ,bringing to a boil.
  • Continuing to whisk (unless you like burnt pots and food), cook for 5-7 minutes until the sauce thickens and is smooth.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove pot from heat, adding most of the cheese. (you want to leave some to top it with). Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth again.
  • Dump the cooked macaroni and broccoli into the pot (this is why we wanted a large pot), and combine all ingredients thoroughly.
  • Pour mixture into the baking dish and top with breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. You may want to broil for a few minutes to make a nice crust, but keep an eye on it because it burns FAST. (*ahem*)
  • Stuff your face.

**This recipe could easily become quite low in fat if you use skim milk, low fat butter etc.**

 

yum in my tum

Spicy Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Alfredo

After coming home from the cottage, I quickly realized I was running very low on groceries. I was totally stumped on what to make for dinner and decided to go through my kitchen and throw something easy together. Well, that something easy turned out amazing and I was bombarded with requests for the “recipe” when I posted a picture of the finished product on Instagram and Twitter. I use quotations around recipe because, there is nothing in this meal that is made from scratch so it’s perfect for a busy night or to make ahead and throw in the oven to reheat come dinner time. I hope your family enjoys it at much as mine did.

cheeeeeeese

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar Sun Dried Tomato Alfredo sauce (I use Classico)
  • 1 bag of No Yolk noodles
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 slices of Provolone cheese
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • olive oil

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium skillet, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Cut uncooked chicken into bite sized pieces. sprinkle with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook chicken  in skillet until it is no longer pink and slightly browned.
  2. Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot, adding noodles, cooking them according to package directions.
  3. Drain noodles, placing them back into the pot and tossing them with a bit of olive oil.
  4. Open the jar of alfredo sauce and dump entire contents in with the noodles, stirring to coat evenly. Add in cooked chicken and mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour chicken and noodle mixture into a shallow baking dish, lay Provolone cheese slices over top.
  6. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.

This dish freezes beautifully and is great as leftovers or cold as a pasta salad.