Tag Archives: fall

The Lazy Blogger: Belgian Beef Stew with Mashed Potatoes

27 Feb

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I haven’t exactly been posting much in my dusty corner of the internets. I’d like to say that it is because I am just so super busy I barely have the time to cook for myself, forget teaching the rest of cyberspace.

But that would be a lie. A dirty, dirty lie.

The truth is, I’m lazy. I’m lazy and I’m really picky about the pictures I take, which usually means that by the time I’m cooking anything it is dark outside and my pictures are crap and I don’t want to post them. So, in recognition of this extreme condition, I’ve decided to start a new series of posts, hereby dubbed “The Lazy Blogger”, until I can come up with a better name. If I ever do.

Posts  titled with the “The Lazy Blogger” will be ones with incomplete pictures, often of only the finished product. Hopefully this will shame me into writing more, and eventually doing this right.

So to kick it off we’ve got a lovely recipe for Belgian beef stew. I made this one night for some friends on Geek Movie Night. Yeah, it’s a thing. We were headed off to see The Green Hornet and I was feeling fancy so I offered to cook. I found this recipe in a giant tome known as “The Complete Meat Cookbook”. I had been given this by a friend as a thank you gift for hosting her bridal shower years ago. I was hesitant about trying this because the authors describe it as having a sort of “sweet and sour” taste (and who wants their stew to taste like Chinese food?) but it turned out to be amazing. Also, I love dark beer so this turned out to be a win-win. Beer in my food and beer in my mouth. Yum.

Like most things I make, I think this is crazy-easy. Yes, there are directions you should probably follow, but you’re essentially just throwing a bunch of ingredients into a pot and letting them simmer for a few hours. Nothing easier than that my friend.

Belgian Beef Stew (from The Complete Meat Cookbook)

2 TB olive oil

3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2-3 in chunks and trimmed of fat (I used beef shoulder london broil and it was amazing. Just make sure you pick something cheap with lots of fat and cartilage).

Salt and pepper

2 lbs onions, halved and thinly sliced

7 carrots, 5 cut into a small dice and 2 cut into large chunks (the dice is added first for flavor, then you add the chunks later in the cooking process).

1/4 lb prosciutto or smoked ham, diced

2 tb chopped garlic

1.5 lbs mushrooms, sliced

1 12 oz bottle of dark beer. I used Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale. Pick something that is dark but not too hoppy.

2 C beef stock

1 tsp dried thyme

3 bay leaves

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Heat the oil over high heat. It helps if you have a dutch oven, but just use the biggest pot you have. You will use the same pot for the whole recipe so you need something pig enough to hold the meat, veggies, and the liquid. Season the meat with salt and pepper and sear it on all sides in the pan, in batches if necessary. You don’t want to crowd the meat or it won’t brown. Remove the meat and set aside.

Put the onions in the pot, cover, and lower the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the diced carrots (reserve the chunks!), prosciutto, and garlic. Cook and stir for 5-6 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook for  1-2 minutes more.

Put the meat back into the pot and add the beer, stock to cover (you might need a tiny bit more or less), thyme, bay leaves, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook at a low simmer for 1.5 hours, or until the meat is fork tender (meaning you can cut it apart with just a fork).

Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside again. Add the carrot chunks and boil until the carrots are tender and the liquid has a syrupy consistency. You don’t want to boil all of the liquid down, though, so you should watch the pot. Lower the heat if necessary, or add more stock. You still want the liquid to be able to cover most of the ingredients, if that makes sense. Discard the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.

So, to go with my delicious stew, I made mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are super-easy. I don’t use a recipe I basically just mash them. I will attempt to describe my method below.

Mashed Potatoes

1-2 lbs potatoes

Milk or cream

Butter

Salt and pepper

Garlic if you want

Cheese if you want

Grab your potatoes. I like to use the little yellow ones, but you can use whatever you want really. I use about a pound of potatoes for 3 people, so just go with that and choose how many you think you need. If you want to, peel them. I only do this when I want the mashed potatoes to be very smooth, or when I am using regular russet potatoes. I don’t think the russet potato skins are very good. For the stew I peeled the potatoes. Then, after you’ve decided if you’re going to peel or not, cut the potatoes into chunks. You should get at least 6-8 potato chunks per potato. Put all of the potato chunks into a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil until you can put a fork through one of the potato chunks without getting any resistance. This usually takes at least 20-30 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and put back into the pot. Add some milk, butter, and salt and pepper, and mash. I have a potato mashed (one of the hand-held ones) and an immersion blender. Usually I use the potato masher to achieve a chunkier consistency, but I wanted these to be very smooth so I used the immersion blender. You don’t need either of these things. If you have done your job right and the potatoes are cooked through you should be able to mash them with a fork. Anyway, so mash them about until you have hit a consistency you like. Add butter and/or milk if needed. Taste and add salt and pepper, maybe some garlic powder, and/or some cheese. I put all of these things in my stew mashed potatoes.

Then, to serve the stew, put a serving of mashed potatoes in a bowl or plate, make a hollow in the center, and scoop some stew into the hollow. Yummmmm.

 

This was so amazing, you don’t even know. The meat was like meat butter it was so tender. So go forth and make yourself some stew! If you’re in New England you need it, seeing as it won’t stop effing snowing here.

❤ Stef

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Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake

19 Oct

Man oh man. I am getting BEHIND in the blogging.

Ok, so, we left off with a whole bunch of pumpkin puree, it was about 2 cups. I decided to take that puree and turn it into delicious, soul-sustaining cheesecake. Yummy yum yum!

I was a little worried that I would have to eat the whole thing by myself, but my fears turned out to be unfounded. The cake was split equally between my internship class and my internship site-ie-a whole bunch of counselors LOVE ME right now. I don’t know why no one else has ever thought of this. Problems at work? Bring cheesecake, douchebag. (Not that I had problems. I’M LOVELY. Even without baked goods).

Ingredients (Recipe by Paula Deen).

Crust:

1 3/4 C graham cracker crumbs

3 TB sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 stick melted butter

Filling:

24 oz cream cheese (3 8oz packages)

1 15oz can of pureed pumpkin (this is where I used my homemade pumpkin puree, which I had about 2 cups of).

3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

1/4 C sour cream

1.5 C sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves (I didn’t use cloves because I didn’t have any).

2 TB flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350˚.

Crush up your graham crackers. I used my hands.

Add the sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Mix until combined and then press into the bottom of a springform pan.

Beat the cream cheese until smooth (it’s supposed to be room temperature, but I put in in the microwave for about 30 seconds). Then add the pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar, spices, flour and vanilla.

Beat until well combined.

Pour into the springform pan and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

My effing cheesecake cracked.

And it started out life as so perfect and smooth!

Right after exiting the oven.

I left it to sit for longer than 15 minutes, and I suspect this is what made it crack. It may have looked like The Land Before Time but it tasted like DELICIOUS. Cut up into slices you could hardly tell, too, so I consider this cheesecake experiment SUCCESS!

Eaaaaat meeeee!

Nommy. Remember to share!

❤ stef

How To: Pumpkin Puree

4 Oct

Alright ladies and gents. It’s that time of year again, the time when most Americans begin to experience uncomfortably desperate pumpkin cravings. You know who you are. You’re the one in the corner mainlining pumpkin spice lattes. Don’t try to hide! YOU’VE BEEN SPOTTED.

Ahem.

Sugar pie pumpkins and all manner of squash are currently on sale at Whole Foods for 99 cents a pound, which is what made me want to buy one. That and “sugar pie” pumpkin is such a cute name. Don’t you want to go buy one now? Sure you do. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

I’ve never actually been a fan of pumpkin pie (one of the only pumpkin incarnations I am aware of, I’ll admit) and I’ve recently decided that this might be because my grandma uses canned pumpkin. I know, I know, apparently there are really awesome and good quality canned pumpkin products out there, but this is just my THEORY. I really want to like pumpkin pie. I feel like I might be missing out on something.  In any case, making your own puree is really easy, and if you get the pumpkin on sale it is SO CHEAP. My pumpkin cost me about $1.50. You’re welcome.

The first step is to grab your pumpkin. Hello pumpkin! He is a sugar pie pumpkin, one of the smaller, sweeter varieties best for dessert making, and he weighs approximately 1.5 pounds. Aww.

Now, wash him. Cut off his stem and then cut him into quarters. This is his better half.

Use a spoon to scoop out all of his insides-seeds and stringy pulpy bits. Put it all aside because you can use the seeds for roasting, or making pumpkin brittle.

Put the quarters on a baking sheet, cover with foil, and roast in a 400˚ oven for 35-40 minutes.

My pumpkin has battle scars.

When it’s done, the pumpkin should be soft enough for you to scrape the shell off with a spoon. I left mine for 35 minutes and it was perfect.

Allow the pumpkin to cool for 10-20 minutes, then take a spoon and scrape the shell off.

Using some sort of mixing or mashing device, puree your pumpkin! I used my very favorite immersion blender that I use for everything. You might prefer a cuisinart, or a fork. I just don’t know.

The puree will keep for a few days in the fridge. I am still trying to decide what to so with mine. Right now, I’m thinking either pumpkin cheesecake or pumpkin pavlovas. I’ll decide in the next few days and post the results next Monday. In the meantime, happy pumpkin making!

❤ stef

Recipe: Apple Brown Betty

11 Nov

This is the second recipe from my little Childhood Recipe Series. I got it from another American Girls Cookbook, this time from Samantha Parkington‘s . In the series, Samantha is a girl living in the turn of the century. She is an orphan living with her grandmother (whom she calls Grandmary) in an upper-class household. One of her friends is an Irish servant girl named Nellie, and eventually both Samantha and Nellie are adopted by Samantha’s Aunt. Her books talk a lot about class disparity, woman’s suffrage, and child labor.

I don’t think I mentioned in the last post, but Addy is an African-American slave who escapes from a plantation with her mother. They both live in Philadelphia, and later on in the series her father (who had been sold to a different plantation when Addy was young) joins them. Her storyline deals mostly with prejudice and the difficulties Addy and her family encounter, even being in the Free North.

Anyway. I love the American Girls. Can you tell??

I made this recipe for Apple Brown Betty for the first time about 12 years ago (yeah, I was 12. I CAN DO THE MATH!), and I hadn’t made it since until this weekend. I’m not sure why, because it is really easy and super-delicious. It’s basically butter, breadcrumbs, sugar and apples. Easier than any apple pie, but twice as good. I’m not going to even try to touch the whole Thanksgiving meal thing, but if you’re looking for a twist on the traditional apple pie this would be a delectable alternative (look at me, breaking out the $5 words!).

Personally, I adore pie, but I’ve never been able to master the art that is the pie crust so I end up buying the pre-made stuff. This is kind of like apple pie, but there is no crust involved. I compare it to making lasagna – you just layer, layer, layer.

Recipe

4 apples

1.5 C bread crumbs

1/2 C brown sugar

3 TB butter

Cinnamon

1/3 C milk

Hard Sauce:

1/3 C butter

1/3 C powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8×8 in plan with BUTTER! Or you can use cooking spray.

Peel, core and chop the apples into 1/4″ slices.

I’m working with a severely reduced kitchen, so my carrot peeler is MIA and I don’t actually own an apple corer. To get around that I used a paring knife to peel, chopped the apples in half and kind of sliced the core out of either side.

Cored apples. Sorta.

Sprinkle 1/2 C of the bread crumbs onto the bottom of the pan.

Follow by half of the apples, 1/4 C of brown sugar and 1 TB of the butter (chop the butter into small pieces and lay them evenly over the apple slices). Sprinkle the cinnamon over everything.

Add a second layer of breadcrumbs and repeat. So to clarify, you will have two layers of apples, butter, cinnamon and sugar, before you move to the next step which is the top of the dessert.

Top with 1/2 C of breadcrumbs and 1 TB butter cut into small pieces. Pour 1/3 C milk over the entire thing.

Bake at 375˚ for 45 min – 1 hr. While it is in the oven, take the 1/3 C butter for the hard sauce, cut it into chunks and put it in a bowl to soften.

I would suggest keeping a close watch on this while it bakes. I think my oven might bake at a very high temperature, because I had it set at 350˚ and my Apple Brown Betty was done in only 30 minutes. Once the top is a medium brown, you’re good to go and you should take it out.

Browned and ready!

When you take it out of the oven, make the hard sauce. Grab your softened butter.

Cream together with the powdered sugar and the vanilla.

Dab the sauce all over the top of the apple brown betty while it is still warm. This will allow the sauce to melt into the dessert.

You can serve immediately, or wait until it cools. I like to eat it warm.

You’re going to need some milk for this.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Peach Cobbler

26 Oct

When I was a child, I was enamored of the kitchen. I always used to ask my mother if I could help her cook dinner, and I was always very annoyed when she told me I could make the salad.

The salad? I would think.

A salad is not cooking. I wanted to use the stove to make something real. I wanted to do something, anything other than make that very boring salad.

So suffice to say that I starting cooking (for real) at a very young age – I made my first pie (chocolate cream) when I was ten. Maybe younger. So the other day (ok fine, the other MONTH), when I was rifling through my things at my parent’s house, I was absolutely delighted to find my old childhood cookbooks. I have three – The Boxcar Children’s Cookbook, Addy’s Cookbook, and Samantha’s Cookbook (the latter two are both American Girls cookbooks. Shush you in the back! Did you make apple brown betty when you were twelve? I thought not).

As a quick side note-I am very pleased to learn that the American Girl franchise is still creating new stories and new girls. I absolutely adored American Girl when I was growing up, and I collected all of the books about all of the girls available at the time. I think it is a fantastic way to introduce American history to pre-teens, and even more amazing that all of the stories are told from the viewpoint of the girls themselves. These stories sparked so much more interest in me for the time line of American history than any class ever did, and I just can’t speak highly enough of them.

Back to the food! Upon my re-discovery of these cookbooks, I decided it would be fun to do a series on recipes made from them. Since I am really nothing more than a child at heart, and besides, I’ve never found a better recipe for many of the items in these books. Hell, I still make milkshakes the way the Boxcar Children taught me.

This recipe is from Addy’s Cookbook.

Recipe:

Filling:

4 C sliced peaches (you can use frozen if you like)

2 TB flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 C sugar

Crust:

1 C flour, plus some extra for rolling out the dough

1 TB sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 TB butter

6 TB half and half

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sugar

Slice the peaches.

Add the flour, cinnamon and sugar, mix together and spoon it into a greased baking pan or a skillet.

For the crust, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into small chunks and smush them into the flour mixture with a fork until you have pea-sized lumps. Add the half and half and stir until the ingredients are just moistened. Sprinkle some flour on a surface (like a cutting board), turn the dough out onto it, and knead the dough for about 30 seconds. To knead, push down on the dough and then fold it in half and repeat. Using a rolling pin, (or, if you don’t have one like me, any cylindrical object. I’m rather fond of wine bottles!) roll out the dough starting from the center and working your way out until it is 1/4″ thick.

Like this!

Like this!

Cut the dough into strips, or use a cookie cutter to make shapes. I went for strips because I don’t have cookie cutters. I know, you’re just thinking, “How does this woman survive in this world?! No rolling pin and NO COOKIE CUTTERS??” It’s hard. But I manage. During Christmas time I either make drop cookies or cookie strips. Better for dunking that way.

Lay the pieces over the fruit and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over it all.

Mmm, cinnamon-y.

Mmm, cinnamon-y.

Bake in a 425˚ oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

It should look something like this.

It should look something like this.

Ta da!

Cut and serve. You can serve with whipped cream or ice cream if that suits your fancy. I eat mine plain, for dessert and for breakfast. Because I’m an adult now, and I can do that. Hahahaha!!!

❤ Stef