Slow Cooker Beef and Vegetable Stew


Slow-Cooker Beef and Vegetable Stew

2 T vegetable oil, divided

3 lb beef chuck roast, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 medium onions, diced

1/4 t salt

6 oz can tomato paste

2 T soy sauce

1 1/2 c beef broth

1/2 c red wine

1 t dried thyme, divided

2 bay leaves

2 T Minute tapioca

1 T olive oil

2 large Russet potatoes, cubed

3 stalks celery, sliced into 1/4 inch thick moons

2 c diced carrot

2 c frozen peas

Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in medium stockpot until it is shimmering hot. Work in batches and sear beef on several sides, then remove to slow-cooker. After browning and removing all the beef, heat another tablespoon of vegetable oil and then add onions and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to pan. Cook over medium-high heat until onions begin to brown. Add tomato paste and stir constantly for one minute, then add soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, wine and beef broth. Whisk to combine, then pour over beef in slow-cooker. Add tapioca and bay leaf.

In a separate bowl toss carrots potatoes and celery with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme. Tear a sheet of aluminum foil that is roughly twice as wide as your slow-cooker. Place vegetables on aluminum foil and then fold over, crimping aluminum foil to seal. Put vegetable pack directly on top of beef in slow-cooker. Replace lid and cook on high for 6-7 hours.

Carefully open aluminum foil packet and stir roasted vegetables along with 2 cups of frozen peas into beef. 

Printable version here

Notes: Sorry for the lack of posts recently; nothing reduces ones desire to cook (or eat for that matter) faster than a sinus infection. For two weeks everything tasted like dust.

I have lots of recipes for stew and I like them all for different reasons. This was particularly nice when I didn't feel well because after an initial rally to get the beef done I didn't have to worry about dinner again all day. The techniques of using the tapioca as a thickener and of putting the vegetables in aluminum foil are both compliments of Cook's Country. Patrick liked this recipe, Caroline and Edward did not. I had lots of leftover stew so I put it into mini loaf pans and covered it with a pie crust and froze it to have as pot pies later. 


Almost Instant Tomato Soup


Almost Instant Tomato Soup

1 T butter

2 T olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves

2 T flour

3 c chicken broth

28 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1 t sugar

1/4 t salt

1/4 t pepper

1/2 t dried basil

In a stockpot, heat butter and oil. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, about ten minutes. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir. Add chicken broth, tomatoes plus liquid, sugar, salt, pepper, and basil - bring to a boil and then lower heat and cover. Simmer thirty minutes and then puree using an immersion blender, blender or food processor.

For cheese toast garnish: slice baguette at angle, rub with garlic, sprinkle with grated parmesan and broil until cheese melts.       

Printable version here

Notes: After a week of the flu I wanted something hot, light, soupy and easy. I made this last night and it was so good I am making another batch right now. I think the original recipe was in Fine Cooking but I could not find the issue when I made it so let's call it an inspired version. 

Leftover Chicken Challenge

I have:

- half a roasted chicken

- a decently full pantry

- 45 minutes

- many regrets that I did not think about asking you this morning

- ZERO inspiration

What do you do with leftover chicken?

Warm Balsamic Chickpea and Romaine Salad


Warm Balsamic Chickpea and Romaine Salad

2 T olive oil

2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 t balsamic vinegar

2 T olive oil

1 T balsamic vinegar

head of romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch skillet until shimmering. Add chickpeas and sauté until they begin to brown, about ten minutes. Pour in 1 teaspoon of balsamic and stir vigorously as vinegar evaporates. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Chop romaine and then toss with dressing. Sprinkle lettuce with a little salt. Top with warm chickpeas and garnish with sliced tomatoes.     

Printable version here.

Notes: Caroline and Edward like the garbanzo beans but lettuce baffles them. Patrick likes the lettuce but feels garbanzo beans are the devil's legume. I can eat almost all of this for lunch, personally, but I would say it actually serves four.

Fried Rice


Fried Rice 

2 T peanut or canola oil


3/4 c carrots, small dice

3/4 c red pepper, small dice

3/4 c broccoli, cut into tiny florets and stems trimmed and cut into small pieces

1 T minced ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 green onions, finely chopped

4 c cooked rice, cold

3/4 c edamame 

1/2 c baby spinach cut into strips

2 eggs, beaten

3 T soy sauce

Optional: 3/4 c chopped Canadian bacon or chopped cooked shrimp

In a large nonstick saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high until it is shimmering hot. Add broccoli, red pepper and carrots and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about five minutes. Stir in garlic, green onions and ginger and cook one more minute. Add rice, edamame and spinach. Stir and then leave it alone for two minutes. If you are using Canadian bacon or cooked shrimp add it here. Stir again, then make a well in the center of the rice mixture. Add beaten eggs and cook, stirring, until they are scrambled. Distribute eggs through rice and remove from heat. Stir in soy sauce and serve.

Printable version here

Notes: Total leftover dinner. A few days prior I made extra rice that I intended to freeze because someone here mentioned that rice can be frozen but I had never tried it. Then I had a whats-for-dinner crisis with not really enough of anything to be useful (the refrigerated rice, a little broccoli, half a pepper, some almost empty bags of frozen stuff.) I remembered that Fine Cooking had done a fried rice at some point but I couldn't find the actual issue (I have since looked it up: Fine Cooking issue 97) so I winged it.       

PS I have been having major problems with my internet provider trying to upload pictures. Sorry for the delay in getting things up here; I have a backlog of recipes to post so check back.

Chicken and Corn Soup, Asianesque


Chicken and Corn Soup, Asianesque

16 oz bag frozen corn

14 oz can coconut milk

3 c chicken broth

2 T vegetable oil

2 T fresh minced ginger

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 t red pepper flakes

1/2 t salt

1 large or 2 small zucchini, cut into thin half moons

2 8 oz cans corn (I like niblets, HO HO HO)

1.25 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast

3 T chopped cilantro

1 lime

Microwave frozen corn 1 to 2 minutes until it is defrosted but not hot. Combine with coconut milk and blend (I love my immersion blender) until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium stockpot heat oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and saute five minutes. Then add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and cook for a minute or two. Add corn/coconut mixture and chicken broth. Reduce heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, for fifteen minutes. Add chicken breast and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through, about twelve minutes. Turn off heat. Transfer chicken to a cutting board until it is cool enough to handle, then chop fine and return to pot. Add canned corn (liquid and all) and 2 T of chopped cilantro. Gently reheat. Taste for salt and pepper, then serve with lime wedges and remaining cilantro.

Printable version here

Notes: I love this soup. I love all soup but I especially love this soup. Like all good soups it becomes a sum greater than its parts. Try it.   

Ahi Tuna Ceviche


Ahi Tuna Ceviche

1 lb sushi-grade ahi tuna, cut into quarter inch dice

1/3 c of fresh lime juice

1 T soy sauce

1.5 t dijon mustard

1 T fresh ginger, finely minced

4 green onions, finely minced

1 t fresh jalapeno, minced

1/3 c cilantro, chopped

3-4 roma tomatoes, diced small

1 avocado, diced small

In a medium bowl combine tuna and lime juice. Refrigerate for thirty minutes, stirring every so often to redistribute the lime juice. In a separate bowl whisk together soy sauce and mustard, then stir in green onions, jalapeno and ginger. Add to tuna, then gently add cilantro, tomato and avocado. Serve with tortilla chips.

Printable version here

Notes: So, yeah, ceviche.. family food blog... a little weird I know. But Steve and I love the stuff and sometimes we like to put the kids to bed and pretend we are a cocktail party of two. I thawed three 8 oz tuna fillets, pan-seared one and chopped up the other two. Caroline, Edward and Patrick split the cooked one (with ketchup and A1 respectively - I think these are the bottled-sauce-in-a-pinch years; try it plain first but then break out the familiar) and Steve and I had ceviche and wine for a late dinner. This would make a terrific starter for a small dinner party. 

Cinnamon Swirl Bread


Cinnamon Swirl Bread

1 c milk
1/4 c butter

2 1/4 t active dry yeast
1/4 c warm (110 degree) water

2 eggs
1/4 c sugar
4 c all-purpose flour, divided
1 t salt

1/4 c sugar
4.5 t cinnamon

1 egg
1 T milk

In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of milk and butter until butter melts. Put aside until it has cooled to 110 degrees.

Meanwhile, put warm water into the bowl of a standing mixture fitted with the paddle and sprinkle with yeast. Stir with a fork to dissolve and let sit for three minutes. Then beat in 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 eggs. Add salt, warm milk mixture and 2 cups of flour. Mix at medium speed until well-blended, pausing to scrape down the sides.  Switch to dough hook and add 1.5 cups of flour. Knead at low-medium speed for about ten minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides until a ball has formed.

Turn dough onto work surface. Knead in about another 1/2 c of flour. The dough should be smooth and elastic and not sticky. If it is still tacky add more flour, two tablespoons at a time, until the dough reaches the desired consistency. When you say ohhhh that feels PERFECT it probably is.

Transfer dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl and spin the dough around a few times to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place (75 degrees - I used my oven which has a proof setting but a closet nestled in a blanket would work) to rise for two to two and a half hours.

Punch dough once in the center and then gently turn it onto unfloured surface. Let the dough rest for ten minutes. Grease 9 x 5 loaf pan with butter. Combine 1/4 cup of sugar with cinnamon in a small bowl.  

Press dough into a 6 x 8 inch rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll dough out until it is 8 x 18 inches. Don't squish it - be gentle. Brush dough generously with milk and then sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar leaving a half inch border at the far end. Roll the dough away from you very tightly, using your hands to keep it from getting too wide. Pinch seam shut with your fingers. Then poke in the ends and pinch those shut as well.

Place loaf seam side down in the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour and a half until the dough is an inch over the rim of the pan. Preheat oven to 350°.

When dough has risen, whisk together one egg and two teaspoons of milk and brush over top of the dough loaf. Bake until golden brown about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool on its side on a wire rack until bread is room temperature.

Printable version here

Notes: Historically I don't bake. But a couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to master French bread before I die and I have been on something of a run ever since. For this recipe I started with Cook's Illustrated but their dough was so wet it was literally running between my fingers as I tried to work with it so I went online and cobbled a few recipes together the next time I tried it. It turned out BEAUTIFULLY.

If you don't have a standing mixer use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients and then knead it by hand for about 15-16 minutes.   

Grilled Soy-Lime Chicken


Grilled Soy-Lime Chicken

1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 c warm water
2 T sugar
2 T kosher salt

3 T soy sauce
1/4 t sugar
1/4 t grated lime zest
2 t lime juice

Combine water, sugar and salt in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken but small enough that it can be mostly submerged in the brine. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt and then add the chicken breast. Brine for thirty minutes.

In a separate bowl combine soy sauce, sugar, lime juice and lime zest. Remove chicken breast from brine, shake to remove excess liquid and then put chicken breast into marinade. Turn to coat and let the chicken marinate while the grill is heating, ten to fifteen minutes.   

Grill over medium heat for nine minutes. Flip and grill for another seven minutes.

Notes: Oh, stop yawning and just eat it. I struggled with chicken breast for a really long time. It's cheap, it defrosts in a plastic bag and warm water in less than half an hour, it's versatile, it's healthy, kids generally like it but... I just couldn't seem to DO anything with it. 

Enter the 30 minute brine (wow!) and one of a million marinades. Try this one. I like it. Patrick LOVES it. Caroline and Edward ate respectable amounts even though I think they get tired of chewing after a while and need something easier like the asparagus and rice that went with it. Edward is like a giraffe, he prefers things that are green. Caroline, for some explicable reason, is a rice FIEND.

"RIIIIIIIIIICCCEE?" she shrieks with both hands outstretched and another thousand grains fall to the floor.

What I have not yet tried is this same recipe without the grill but now that we are being deluged with an icy rain and the temperature inside my house is about sixty (who turns on the heat this early?) I think my grilling days are over. I shall try it on the stovetop and report back later, unless you want to try it on the stovetop and report back sooner.

Freezable French Toast


Freezable French Toast

2 loaves sliced bread

6 T butter, browned

3 c half-and-half
4 eggs
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T flour
2 T vanilla extract
1 T real maple syrup
2 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° unless you are going to use the broiler to toast the bread, in which case you can wait to turn on the broiler and then reduce the heat to 350° for the baking cycle.

Heat butter in a saucepan until it has browned, about five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about five to ten minutes - you want the butter to still be liquid but not so hot it that it causes the eggs to cook when you add them. Then whisk in eggs, half-and-half, brown sugar, flour, vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. Pour into a wide, flat container (like a lasagne pan or a big Tupperware container.)

Spray a wire cooling rack with cooking spray (or grease lightly with oil or a little butter) and place it inside a baking sheet. Two if you have them.

Start toasting the bread. You can either use a toaster or arrange the bread on the racks and broil for a minute or two on each side. The idea is to toast the bread and then soak the warm toast in the egg/half-and-half mixture so that it absorbs.

Take two pieces of warm toast at a time and submerge them in the custard for about sixty seconds (you'll start to see air bubbles as if you are drowning them - drowning them in GOODNESS.) Shake excess liquid off and arrange pieces on the wire cooling racks. Mine fit eight perfectly and I baked two sheets at once. Bake at 350° for fifteen minutes, turning after seven minutes (if you are baking two sheets switch their positions in the oven at this time.) Repeat with toast, custard soak and bake until both loaves and the custard are gone.

Let cool on the racks for thirty minutes, then place in freezer for an hour. Transfer frozen toast to Ziploc bags and freeze to store.

To reheat simply pop into the toaster and toast.

Makes 32 pieces. Serves: 1 Patrick.

Printable version here

Notes: Did that make any sense? It seems so obvious when I was doing it (toast soak bake freeze) but I am not sure if I didn't just garble things a little. The idea came from Cook's Country (a magazine I like) but I tweaked it a lot. The process takes time and is a nice weekend project, I think. The payoff comes on weekday mornings when you can create really good french toast in thirty seconds with the toaster. Ta DA!