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Friday, January 17, 2014

Leftover Grilled Steak Tips? Make Steak Stew!

This has got to be, by far, one of the best "beef stews" I have made!  I'm not sure if it is because I used left over grilled steak tips for the beef, or the fact that I didn't mask any of the flavors with lots of herbs and spices.  You'll have to be the judge, but I highly recommend you use a really nice, perfectly cooked beef.  There's nothing worse than having beef stew where the meat is really tough and dry!

Here is your list of ingredients:

Beef (I highly recommend a really 
flavorful, tender meat) no measurement needed!!
2 tbs flour
2 tbs butter
2 tbs cornstarch
olive oil
red potatoes
½ cup barley
at least 6 cups of beef broth

Start by cutting up the veggies (these measurements are approximations - use whatever you would like!:

1-2 cups sliced Carrots
1-2 cups sliced Celery
½-1 cup chopped Onion
½ cup chopped Shallot
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped

Bundle together some fresh Thyme and Sage and drop into the pan.

Cut up about 6-8 red potatoes and add those.

Once everything begins to get tender, add at least 6 cups of beef broth

In a small pan, melt 2 tbs of butter and blend in 2 tbs of flour, so that it becomes a paste.  Cook for about 2 minutes and remove from the heat.  Whisk in 1 cup of beef broth.   This will make a thick mixture... put this aside.

I cut up all of my leftover grilled steak tips and added them to my veggies, along with about 5 cups of beef broth.  Please feel free to add more broth if you need a larger quantity of soup!  Simmer this for about 40 minutes.  At this point, take some of the broth and add to the flour/butter mixture you put aside.  Then, slowly add back into the soup.  Stir until combined and add ½ cup of barley.  Cover and continue cooking.

Check on the stew every 20 minutes or so.  If you like really thick stew, combine about 2 tbs of cornstarch with a little water and slow stir into your stew.  Under higher heat, it should thicken up immediately.  If not, turn your stove up a little until it is the thickness you like.

And now the best part?  Taste.  It might need a little salt and pepper, but that is about it.  A real "stick-to-your-ribs" stew!

Stuffed Zucchini - Vegetarian Style

As you can tell from my posts, I am not exactly what you'd call a "vegetarian" cook... i.e. so many recipes call for Italian sausage, or pork tenderloin, etc.!  A friend of my daughters is vegetarian and has come over for dinner on several different occasions, so I have had to come up with some meatless dishes.  I have to say, this one came out really yummy and I finally made something without pasta!

All the ingredients were things I had on hand:

½ a Vidalia onion, chopped
a handful of mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbs butter
2 Zucchini
roasted red peppers
cherry tomatoes
cheese for the topping
shredded cheese
Parmesan cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper

Chop up your onion, mushrooms and garlic.  Slice the zucchini lengthwise and with a melon baller or spoon, scrape out a "trough" down the center.  Set the scrapings aside as they will go into the stuffing.

Saute the onion and garlic in a small amount of butter.  When they become transparent, add the mushrooms and the scrapings from your zucchini.

Time to throw in a handful of croutons and about ½ cup of some sort of shredded cheese. 

The croutons will absorb the extra liquid.  Sprinkle in some dried basil, salt and pepper, and a little Parmesan cheese.

I began with a slice of roasted red pepper....

Next I add the stuffing, followed by the cherry tomatoes....

Now, I had this really yummy basil and garlic cheese that I sliced and put on top, but please feel free to use whatever you have on hand (anything except American cheese!  I think that would ruin the flavor!)

Pop into a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.

This was absolutely delicious as is, but I think it would be interesting if you got a bit adventurous and drizzled the tops with either some kind of pasta sauce or even a little bit of Caesar dressing...go for it!

As with all of my meals, I hope you know that you can always substitute or eliminate ingredients if you don't have them.  As long as you use the herbs/garlic/onion/crouton mixture (which are the basic flavors), you could add meat , different cheeses, or other veggies....absolutely.  Experiment!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Escalloped Potatoes with Spinach and Artichoke Hearts

Here is a delicious side dish that was so easy to make. I made it using fat-free cheeses, but feel free to use whatever works best for you.  Here are the ingredients:
6-8 good-sized red potatoes, sliced
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
4 oz. low-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese
about 2 cups of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 regular size bag of spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup of green onions
Begin by heating the cheeses and chicken broth in a pot until the cheese is melted. 
Add the spinach and continue cooking until it has wilted.  Stir in the artichokes and set aside.

Wash and slice the potatoes....

Last step:  Add the sliced potatoes to the sauce and mix well.  Fold in the sliced green onions.  Spread into a prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees.  Cover with foil, reduce your oven to 375 degrees and cook for 1 hour more, or until the potatoes are tender.

To shorten your cooking time by an hour, feel free to boil the potatoes just until they begin to get tender.  Drain well and combine with the sauce.  You will need to bake the dish for 30 minutes at 425 degrees.


Italian Wedding Soup

This is such a delicious soup -- so simple, yet the flavors are wonderful.  There are very few ingredients, and using frozen "Swedish-style" meatballs makes it that much easier.
Here are your ingredients:
1 Onion, chopped
Carrots - about 2 cups chopped
Celery - about 2 cups chopped
garlic - 4 good-sized cloves, chopped
Spinach - as much as you would like
White wine, about 1/2 cup
any type of pasta you have on hand (I used half a box)
Swedish-style meatballs
chicken broth - 2 boxes
(more or less, depending on how much soup you are making)
Parmesan cheese

Making this soup is textbook!  Saute the onions, carrots, celery, and chopped garlic in a little butter.

When they begin to become tender, add the chicken broth, wine, and spinach and simmer for about 20 minutes.

I like to cook the pasta in a separate pot before adding it to the soup because it absorbs too much of the liquid.  So, while the veggies are simmering, cook your pasta.  When done, drain and add to the pot.  Also add your meatballs.  Even though they are small, I like to cut them in half.  They are easier to eat that way.


Take a taste to make sure it doesn't need any seasoning.  I wait until I serve the soup to add the Parmesan cheese.  Otherwise, if you add it to the pot, it will just melt and stick to the bottom!



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rice Krispie Cookies - a blast from my childhood!

One bite of this cookie, and your mouth just feels so happy.  There is just something so comforting about this cookie!  I haven't had these since I was a child, so you can understand how nostalgic they were for me!  They still taste delicious.....just the way I remember them.  Here is all there is to them:

1 cup of shortening or butter
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups of flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup Quick Cook rolled oats
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Begin by creaming the butter and sugar.  Once it is nice and fluffy, add the vanilla and eggs.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, soda, powder and salt and incorporate that.  Remove from the blender, and with a spoon,  add the oats and Rice Krispies and gently mix.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Using a tablespoon, make a ball of cookie dough and slightly flatten on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until the cookies are nice and golden brown.  About 3/4 of the way through the cooking time, I like to rotate the cookie sheet so that they cook evenly.

 All that is left to do is eat them!  Delish....