Archive for MEALS

Hearty Beef Stew

Beef stew is a comfort dish that everyone should know how to make.  That and chicken soup — both are recipes you should have in your cooking repertoire.  It’s not that difficult to put a beef stew together — you just brown some meat and throw in some vegetables, right?  Wrong.

While not difficult to make, the order in which you cook your stew, and the seasonings and flavorings you add make the difference between a “WOW” and an “EHH” stew.

The first layer of flavor comes from browning good quality beef.  I like using a top sirloin, but any good lean beef (a bit of marbling is okay) will do.  Don’t just throw the meat into the pot and crank up the heat.  Think of this as building a masterpiece.  Right from the get-go, you’re building up the flavorful dimensions in this classic comfort dish.

Add the meat to the pot, along with some aromatics…in this case, garlic, freshly ground black pepper, salt, ground thyme and butter.  Give the mixture a stir then let the meat and aromatics cook for 5 minutes over high heat.  The browning of the meat also adds great depth of flavor, which is what you want.  Do not add the liquid right away or you’ll have boiled meat soup instead of a rich and hearty stew.

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After the meat is nice and brown, and you’ve begun to build you base flavor, it’s time to add the liquids.  A good beef stew uses some sort of wine.  I recommend using a good quality red wine, burgundy if you have any.  Don’t use the “cooking wine” you find in the salad dressing section of your grocery store.  A good rule of thumb for cooking with wine is to use wine you like to drink out of a glass.   Mix together some water, wine, and my secret ingredient (shhhh…don’t tell anyone), orange juice.  See the flavor combinations going on here?  I like adding orange juice to cut back on the strong flavor of the wine (my kids don’t like too much wine in my cooking).  Add the wine mixture to the pot.

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Now it’s time to create even more layers of flavor that will deepen with prolonged simmering.  Turn your heat down to low, place a lid on the pot, and go away for two hours.  Read a book.  Catch up on your favorite television shows.  Walk the dog.  Do something but do not uncover that pot.  Let the meat, liquid, and aromatics simmer happily, undisturbed.  In two hours, the meat will get nice and tender.

Right about the two hour mark, make the roux.  This butter-flour mixture works to thicken the broth and add a richness because of the butter.  Butta is betta.  ‘Nuff said.

Melt some butter in a small sauce pan then add a few spoonfuls of flour.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to turn a golden brown.  Pour in some of the broth from the pot — about 1 to 2 cups will suffice — whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming.  If the mixture seems too thick, add more broth until you get a relatively creamy mixture (the photo below, on the right, needs more broth).  Add the roux to the pot, stirring to dissolve the roux into the broth.  Add the additional beef broth.

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Add your vegetables to the pot.  All at once.  Go ahead.  Don’t be skurred.  Well, I take that back.  Add the root vegetables first (potatoes, carrots) and let them cook for a few minutes before adding any other vegetables that cook quickly, like onions and in my recipe below, brussels sprouts.

Turn the heat back up to high and cook for about 10 more minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots can be pierced easily with a fork.  I like using petite red potatoes because they are small enough that I just have to wash them then throw them into the pot.  You can cut them in half if you want to cut down on the cooking time, but after two hours of simmering, what’s another five minutes of cooking?

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Stir occasionally; the broth should be a nicely thickened gravy by now with the addition of the roux.  Taste the gravy; add salt and pepper to taste.  I like adding Dashida beef flavored seasoning instead of salt.

Serve with hot steamed white rice.  If you’re like me, you’ll need to drown your rice in some of the delicious gravy.

ENJOY!

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Hearty Beef Stew
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Stew
Ingredients
  • 3½ pounds top sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground thyme
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup red wine (I recommend a burgundy)
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 1 bag (10-oz.) frozen brussel sprouts
  • 12 whole petite red potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced large
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 4 tablespoons Dashida (or add salt, to taste)
Roux:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1½ cups broth (use the broth from the stew)
Instructions
  1. Place the meat, butter, chopped garlic, ground thyme, black pepper and salt into a large pot. Cook over high heat until the meat browns, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the water, orange juice, and wine; reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours.
  3. After 2 hours, prepare the roux. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir constantly while cooking over medium heat until the mixture begins to brown. Whisk in the broth from the pot of stew. Turn the heat off; whisk the roux into the remaining broth in the pot.
  4. Add the beef broth; stir.
  5. Add the carrots, potatoes and onion. Let this cook for a few minutes then add the brussels sprouts.
  6. Return the heat to high and cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  7. Taste the gravy and add salt and pepper to taste, or add Dashida.
Serve with steamed white rice and enjoy!

 

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Tater Tot Casserole

If you’re looking for a stick-to-your-ribs comfort dish, this one is it.  Tater tots, seasoned ground beef and cheese sauce are all baked into a casserole that will make your tummy and taste buds happy, happy, happy.

My complete recipe is located at the bottom of this post.  Give it a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Tater Tot Casserole

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Although the name of this dish is “Tater Tot Casserole,” the real star is the cheese sauce that ties it all together.  If you do an online search, you’ll find that quite a few tater tot casserole recipes call for cream of mushroom or chicken soup.

While I do like the canned condensed soup, I thought I’d make my own for this recipe, and I’m glad I did.  Not only can you control the quality of ingredients that go into the dish, you can also control the amount of sodium as well.

Start by placing vegetable broth into a large pot.  You’ll use this same pot to eventually make the cheese sauce, so make sure your pot is big enough to fit the sauce base and all of the cheese and other delicious ingredients that go into it.

Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat.

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Add chopped mushrooms, Dashida, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, and thyme to the pot.  Stir to combine, then place a lid on the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the mixture returns to a boil.

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While the broth is simmering, whisk some flour and milk together.

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Pour the flour mixture into the boiling liquid, whisking as you pour so as to prevent lumps from forming.

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Turn the heat down to medium-low.  Cook for a couple of minutes to allow the base to thicken.  See, doesn’t this look better than the canned condensed soup?

It tastes better too. 🙂

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Once you’ve got the base done, you can finish up the cheese sauce.

Whisk in some milk.

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Add shredded cheese and sour cream to the pot.  Stir the mixture until the cheese melts.  Turn the heat off and place a lid on the pot.  Set the cheese sauce aside for now while you cook the ground beef.

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Brown lean ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions, garlic powder and Dashida; cook for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent.

imagePreheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place a layer of frozen tater tots in the bottom of a DEEP baking dish.  A deep roasting pan works well.

Pack those babies in there!

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I don’t show it here, but add half of the cheese sauce to the pan, on top of the tater tots.

Add all of the ground beef to the pan, on top of the cheese sauce.

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Pour the remaining cheese sauce over the ground beef.

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Top with more tater tots.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tater tots are golden brown and crispy on top and the sauce is bubbly.

Serve and ENJOY!

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Tater Tot Casserole
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Delicious comfort food combining the childhood favorite, Tater Tots, with seasoned ground beef and a creamy, cheesy sauce.
Author:
Recipe type: One Dish Meal
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
Ingredients
Meat and Potato Filling:
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Dashida (Korean beef flavored seasoning)
  • 1 large bag Tater Tots
Sauce Base:
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons Dashida
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup flour
Cheese Sauce:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 16 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (I like to use a Mexican cheese blend)
  • 1 cup sour cream
Instructions
Prepare the Sauce Base:
  1. Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the mushrooms, Dashida, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder and thyme. Return the mixture to a boil.
  3. Whisk the milk and flour in a small cup or bowl. Pour the mixture into the boiling liquid, whisking as you pour to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for a couple of minutes to thicken the base.
Make the Cheese Sauce:
  1. Whisk the remaining milk into the sauce base.
  2. Stir in the shredded cheese and sour cream. Set the sauce aside.
Brown the Meat:
  1. Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and Dashida. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
Layer the Casserole:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a DEEP DISH pan, layer the casserole as follows:
  3. ~ Tater tots, half the cheese sauce, meat, remaining sauce, then tater tots.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top layer of tater tots are golden brown and crispy and the cheese sauce is bubbly.
Serve and ENJOY!

 

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Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These chicken lettuce wraps are a good choice if you’re looking for a quick dish to make for an appetizer or a light meal.  I created this recipe when I was craving the popular appetizer served at a famous Chinese Restaurant chain.  It’s quite easy to make.  It only takes a few minutes to chop up the chicken and vegetables; you can have this on your table in about 30 minutes.

This is also a great dish if you have picky eaters like I do.  My youngest daughter opted to eat the filling with rice instead of the “yucky green lettuce”, but boy did she devour the savory, saucy chicken and VEGETABLE-laden filling! 😉  (Shhhh….don’t tell her.)

My complete recipe is located at the bottom of this post.  Give it a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Make the stir fry sauce.

In a small bowl, mix all of the sauce ingredients together EXCEPT for the water and cornstarch mixture.

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Heat a large pan or wok over medium-high heat.  Add the sesame oil and chicken.

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Pour the sauce into the pan with the chicken.

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Stir occasionally, cooking until the chicken is no longer pink.

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Add the water chestnuts, mushrooms, onion and Thai basil leaves.

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Cook the chicken and vegetable mixture for a couple of minutes.

Stir the cornstarch-water mixture then pour into the pan, stirring the chicken mixture as you pour.  Cook for a couple more minutes, stirring constantly.  The sauce will thicken as it cooks.

Stir in half of the green onions.  Cook for a minute longer then remove from the heat.

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Fill the lettuce leaves with the chicken mixture.  Top with more green onions and hot pepper flakes.

ENJOY!

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Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Crispy lettuce filled with a savory mixture of chicken, water chestnuts, ginger, garlic and hoisin sauce that make a delicious appetizer or a light lunch or dinner meal.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 6
Ingredients
Chicken Stir Fry
  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced (or 1 pound ground chicken)
  • 2 cans water chestnuts, drained and diced
  • 1 package fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 Thai basil leaves, optional
  • 8 stalks green onions, sliced
Stir Fry Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ soy sauce
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup water mixed with 2 tablespoons corn starch
Lettuce Wraps
  • 1 large head butter or iceberg lettuce, wash, dried and leaves separated
  • Red pepper flakes, optional
Instructions
Make the stir fry sauce:
  1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and rice wine vinegar.
  2. Set aside the cornstarch and water mixture for now.
Cook the chicken:
  1. Heat a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the sesame oil and chicken.
  2. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the water chestnuts, mushrooms, onion, and Thai basil leaves to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Stir the cornstarch-water mixture the pour into the pan, stirring as you pour. Cook for another couple of minutes until the sauce thickens.
  5. Stir in half of the green onions. Cook for a minute longer then remove from the heat.
Assemble the chicken wraps:
  1. Scoop some filling into the lettuce leaves.
  2. Top with some sliced green onions and pepper flakes.
ENJOY!

 

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Green Chicken Curry

There are so many varieties of curries — from chicken, to beef, to all vegetable — I haven’t found a curry I didn’t like. 😉

It’s such a versatile dish too.  Just find your favorite recipe and modify it to your liking.  Use your favorite vegetables and meat and add as much or as little spice as you want and voila!, chicken curry!  Serve over hot, steamed white rice and you’ll have yourself a delicious meal.

Give my recipe a try.  It think you’ll like it. 🙂

Green Chicken Curry
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soups & Stews
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 4 large chicken breasts, cut into small pieces (or a mixture of white/dark chicken meat)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 1 medium bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 can (10 oz) straw mushrooms or you can use fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can (15 ­oz) young corn, sliced into 1½ inch pieces
  • 1 can (8 oz) bamboo shoots
  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut cream or coconut milk *Use 2 cans if you like lots of kadu.
  • Other vegetables of your choosing
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil or use ½ cup freshly chopped sweet basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon or 2 bouillon cubes
  • Hot chili peppers, sliced, ­­optional
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup water
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, add water, bouillon, onions, garlic, pepper, and chicken pieces; bring to a boil; cook for approximately 10 minutes over medium­high heat.
  2. Add potatoes to chicken; continue cooking for 5 more minutes.
  3. Add curry paste, brown sugar, fish sauce, and remaining vegetables to pot; stir well to dissolve curry paste and brown sugar. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Add coconut cream to pot. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 5­8 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.
  5. Add hot pepper to taste.
  6. Serve over hot rice.
ENJOY!

 

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Chicken Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad one of my family’s favorite side dishes.  There are many, many macaroni salad variations, but we’re simple…we like two specific kinds.  The first is a Hawaiian style macaroni salad and the other is Filipino style Macaroni salad.

My recipe below is for a very basic Filipino macaroni salad.  It has chicken, cheese, pineapple, and sweet relish, but you can also add other ingredients such as hard-boiled eggs, ham, and raisins.  Some of my Filipino friends also add a spoonful or more of sweetened condensed milk, but I don’t like mine too sweet (to me, the relish and pineapples add just the right amount of sweetness) so I don’t add it.

This dish is best made the night before you intend to serve it.  An overnight stay in the ‘fridge allows all the pasta to absorb all the delicious flavors.

I like to add lots of chicken (more than what I have in my recipe below) whenever I want to serve this as my main dish.  It’s great for packed lunches, and it’s also a quick and easy pot-luck dish.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Chicken Macaroni Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large chicken breast
  • Salt, black pepper, and garlic powder (for the chicken)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 cups cooked macaroni
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (for the macaroni salad)
  • 1 10-ounce jar sweet pickle relish, with as much juice squeezed out as possible
  • 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, with as much juice squeezed out as possible
  • 7 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, diced

Directions:

NOTE:  The photos below of the chicken show around 9 or 10 chicken breasts.  We like to cook several chicken breasts at a time so that we can use it throughout the week in various dishes.  We used one breast to make this salad; about 6 breasts were used in my daughter’s Chicken Marsala, and a couple more went into my daughter’s other dish, Mac-n-cheese with Chicken.  Cooking in bulk is a great way to save time during the week, especially if you’re pressed for time each morning.  It saves time at night too, when you’re trying to prepare dinner after a long day at work or school.

Prepare the chicken.

Place the chicken breast into a ziplock bag.  Use a kitchen mallet to flatten the chicken into about 1/4-inch thickness.

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Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with salt, black pepper and garlic powder.

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Dredge the seasoned chicken breast in the flour, covering both sides.

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 Place a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the vegetable oil to the pan.

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 Place the chicken in the pan when the pan and oil are hot.  Reduce the heat to medium.

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 Cook the chicken for about 4-6 minutes on each side.

Turn occasionally to evenly brown both sides.

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 Shred or thinly slice the cooked chicken and set it aside.

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Prepare the macaroni salad.

Place the shredded chicken breast, cooked macaroni, black pepper, relish, crushed pineapple, cheese and mayo in a large mixing bowl.  Add in any other optional ingredients.

Gently fold all of the ingredients together.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Serve and ENJOY!

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