Hearty Beef Stew to Warm Your Belly

Sandy oh Sandy. As I’m writing this the lightening is flashing and the thunder is booming outside my apartment. We were hit (more like open palmed slapped…half-heartedly) by Hurricane Sandy yesterday, and I figure this is some sort of aftershock-esque weather. I only had to work a half day at work because the T shut down at 2. But to be honest I was radiating with annoyance at having to go into work at all…there’s nothing I love better than a stormy day in my sweat pants. But whatever right? There are people with ACTUAL  problems resulting from Sandy so I’ll stop being a jerk.

this poor guy seems to be the only casualty on my street!

Anyways…I’ve been meaning to post this for like 2 weeks. So I’m sharing it with you now. A few weeks ago I busted out the ‘ole crockpot and whipped up some Beef Stew. As I’ve mentioned before in other posts I’m really not a soup person; it’s just not my jam generally. But I wanted to branch out and give it a go…partly because the weather turned arctic…remember that week? brrrrrr!

It’s actually really easy to put together and you don’t need any other pots or anything…it’s mostly just layering. Here’s how the magic happens: (recipe from Get Crocked)

Hearty Beef Stew

  • 2 lbs. stew beef
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 4 lg. carrots, peeled & sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 lg. potatoes, peeled & chopped into chunks
  • 1 c. condensed beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/3 c. soy sauce
  • 1 lg. onion, sliced
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
  1. Layer potatoes on the bottom of your crock pot.
  2. Next, layer carrots on top of potatoes.
  3. Place meat on top of carrots.
  4. Sprinkle meat with soy sauce, salt, paprika, pepper & flour.
  5. Layer chopped onions evenly on top of sauce/seasonings.
  6. Combine beef broth & tomato sauce and pour over everything in the crock pot.
  7. Cover and cook on low for 7 – 8 hrs. (or high 4 – 5 hrs. if pressed for time

    Now I changed it up a bit to suit my tastes…I added canned corn and a sweet potato as well.

This is an easy recipe for putting the freezer for later cooking, or just feeding yourself slash your family. I think it’s a good one to keep in your arsenal for this winter!
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Suck it Betty Crocker…I Make My Cake from Scratch

okay…so the title of this blog is only partly true. I frequently make cakes from a box out of laziness and poverty. But when I DO make a cake from scratch BOOM. It’s all “Betty Who?”

I had to buy some carrots a bit ago to make some Beef Stew (I’ll be posting about it soon!). I’m not huge into carrots…I only like them cooked. I needed to use them or lose them, so I decided that there was no time like the present to whip up a sweet treat.

 

To be perfectly honest I’ve never been a big fan of carrot cake. This post is making me seem super picky lol (I’m really not). For some reason I just never like carrot cake that much. But back in my Peace Corps days I had a garden and I grew some stellar carrots. Back then EVERYTHING I made was from scratch, so the idea of making a cake from scratch with carrots I grew all by myself was too good to resist. So I ended up finding an awesome recipe.

Blast from the past Peace Corps photo of the day I picked my carrots!

So the other night I decided to bring forth the magic….also I may have needed something productive to do while I drank my wine…

I used my carrot cake recipe and a great cream cheese frosting recipe from the one and only Martha Stewart.

Here’s the recipe:

1 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp vanilla (that’s pretty conservative)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (again this is conservative)
2 c grated carrots

Combine sugar and oil in a bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix. Add it all together and mix in the carrots.
Put batter into a greased pan (spring forms work great) and bake for about 35 mins at 350.

Ok so in reality you can be a little more relaxed with this recipe. I legit dump everything in one bowl in whatever order I happen to read the ingredients. I’m not dirtying any more dishes than it is absolutely essential that I do.  Also when they give measurements for things like vanilla and cinnamon I take that as more of a suggestion. Who am I? the spice police? you use however much flavor you like!

Check out the link for the frosting recipe. Its super simple with only a few ingredients (powdered sugar, cream cheese and butter).

Gettin’ Crafty: Fall Edition

Fall is OFFICIALLY here folks. And I couldn’t be more pumped about it! Fall is my favorite season. 1. The weather is ideal (layers are my jam, bring on the cardigans!) 2. Pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING…I think I’ve drank a pumpkin spice latte everyday for a month 3. beautiful foliage 4. Fall crafts and treats! 5. Halloween themed life (hello Hocus Pocus!).

So my pals and I have been really getting into the spirit of fall these days. We’ve been planning fun festive activities (going to a haunted corn maze tomorrow!) and spending time hunting for costumes, etc.

The other night we had a quiet Friday night-in so we could decorate some pumpkins! So fun. I encourage all of you to check out Pinterest for some awesome pumpkin decorating/ holiday decorating ideas!

While we were busy gettin’ our holiday craft on, we also had some tasty seasonal treats!

We toasted up the pumpkin seeds from J’s pumpkin (coated with olive oil, salt, and garlic salt and baked at 350 for about 20 mins) and drank some yummy pumpkin cider (Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider) with cinnamon sugar rimmed glasses!

 

 

 

And when I saw this guy at the Boston Common Coffee Company I just HAD to get it! So adorable…also delicious!

Happy Fall!

 

Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie…Yes Please!

True story: I love chicken pot pie. Let’s be serious here people, what’s NOT to love about it? Answer: nothing.

So obviously when I came across an opportunity to combine my love of chicken pot pie with my love of crockpots…BOOM…it was a big lovefest.

Its actually super easy to whip up…and is perfect for this chilly (sometimes freezing) fall weather.

 

Here’s how you make it:

  • 1 – 1/2 lbs. Chicken Thighs, boneless
  • 10 3/4 oz. cream of chicken, canned
  • 10 3/4 oz. cream of celery, canned
  • 10 3/4 oz. cream of broccoli, canned
  • 8 oz. corn
  • 8 oz. carrots
  • 10 oz. green beans
  • 8 oz. peas
  • 1 large potato (I added this to the recipe because I love potatoes in my pot pies)
  • Biscuits, package of 8-10

1. Fill the bottom of the crock pot with boneless chicken thighs and potatoes.

2. Pour a can of cream of chicken, cream of celery and cream of broccoli soup over the chicken and potatoes.

3. Cover. Cook for 6 hrs on low.

4. Add a can of corn, carrots, green beans and peas and cook for 45 min longer on low.

5. Make biscuits in the oven and scoop pot pie on top of biscuits.

So easy and delicious!

Apples to Apples: Part 4

I imagine at this point many of you are getting sick of this apple business. I get it. But maybe now its becoming clear for you just how many apples I picked that fateful Saturday…

This being the 4th installment of my apple series I’ll share 2 of the more unique recipes I tried. The first that I’ll talk about is a tasty Fall Apple Sangria….mmmm sangria….

Sangria is one of the easiest things to make because it is very forgiving. Personally, I’ve always had a soft spot for sangria because it satisfies so many needs…the need for some booze and it also is a tasty snack. Win win. Here’s how I made this fun fall beverage:

1 bottle sweet white wine (I used a Moscato)
1 bottle champagne (I used a Dry Cooks)
3 bottles of hard cider (out of like a 6 pack)
1.5 Tbs sugar
1/2ish lemon juice
1-2 apples

All you do is dump all this biz in a bowl, let it sit for a little while and DRINK UP!!! Hello Friday!…..I may have drank most of this myself one weekend….

The second recipe I’m going to talk about is one I found on Pinterest…shock I know lol. Its a shake up on Mac and Cheese. Its a Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with bacon and apples.

Now my first issue with this was that I simply couldn’t find canned butternut squash….so I subbed in canned pumpkin instead. You can find the recipe here.

So the picture on the website made it look super good. Even mine photographed pretty well (even without the bacon). I have mixed feelings about the recipe. It has an “interesting” taste. I think that it’s because of the broth that the recipe calls for. Its not bad…its just very different. I’m not sure I would make it again. But I’m really happy I tried it out. And as weird as it may seem, the apples TOTALLY worked. They were crunchy and tart and went so well with the mac and cheese aspect of the dish. Plus, who doesn’t love bacon?

This actually concluded my mini-series on apples!!! And at the present moment I only have about 5 apples left that I’m just snacking on.

How has apple season been for you folks?

Apples to Apples: Part 3

Apples apples and more apples. That has been my life for like 2 weeks. But in my recent post I told you that I made Apple Butter in my crockpot.

I’ll be honest with you. I had NO idea what apple butter was, what it looked like, what it tasted like, or what the what you did with it. But friends and the internet said good things so I figured hey why not?

It is a bit of a process so it works best as a weekend thing.

Start by peeling, coring and chopping about a dozen apples. Then toss them in your crockpot.

Next add 1/4 c brown sugar and cinnamon (I used like 1.5 Tbs) and 1/2c water. Set your crockpot on low and cook for about 10 hours (overnight works best time wise).

In the morning you have this!

Then use a wooden spoon to prop the cover open and cook on high for around 4 more hours.

After around 4 hours the water cooks off so you have this tasty mess. You can leave it like this, or you can use a Magic Bullet or Immersion Blender to smooth it out. I happen to have both so I opted for smooth.

I divided my batch in half. I filled this adorable mason jar and put it in my fridge, and filled a tupperware container and stuck it in my freezer for later. Its really tasty stuff. It also makes for great holiday gifts come Christmas time.

Apples to Apples: Part 2

So this is another in my mini series of apple-type fall treats. In my previous post (check that guy out here) I told you about my apple orchard excursion that resulted in my picking a 1/2 bushel of apples (aka roughly 50 apples!). And after baking an apple pie and an apple peach cobbler I still had TONS of apples left over.

My friend L was having the ladies over for some TV time one Wednesday night, so I figured I would make a treat for us. Some casual interneting led me to some cool recipes. I decided on this guy: Danish Apple Pastry Bars from Midwest Living. Com (check out the link here). They looked simple enough and more importantly they looked delicious. They have a really yummy crust that is sort short bread like. Beware bakers: these guys are addictive. But a word of advice, READ THE RECIPE CAREFULLY! It is really poorly written. Try my version below for a more step by step approach.

 

Here’s how to make these guys:

2.5 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 c shortening
1 egg yolk
milk (almost 2/3 c…see directions)
1 c corn flakes
8-10 apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
3/4-1 c white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (more if we’re being realistic)
1 egg white lightly beaten
1 c powdered sugar
3-4 tsp milk

1. Peel, core, and slice all your apples. Place them in a bowl.
2. In a large bowl, combine salt and flour. Using a fork or pastry cutter blend in the shortening until its nice and crumbly.
3. In a liquid measuring cup, add the egg yolk and enough milk to fill 2/3 cup.
4. add milk/yolk combo to the crumbles. When it all comes together it should form a sticky dough. Divide the dough in half.
5. On a well floured surface roll half the dough out into a rectangle the size of whatever pan you’re using. Then put it in the pan (oil/spray it first).
6. Crush the cornflakes and spread them on top of the dough in your pan.
7. Spread your apples on top of the corn flakes.
8. Combine white sugar and cinnamon. Spread over apples.
9. Repeat step 5 and place dough over apple.
10. Spread egg whites over the top layer of dough.
11. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for another 30ish minutes until top is golden brown and apples are tender.
12. Combine the powdered sugar and a few TBS of milk to make a glaze. Spread over warm bars. When cooled, cut them into squares and EAT UP!

When I made these, the original recipe messed me up and I ended up adding the powdered sugar to the white…yikes…luckily I was able to scoop it out!

 

But lets be serious people, 50 apples is too many…and I STILL had so many left. So I realized that this was the PERFECT time to make some Apple Butter! Which happens to be my next post! Stay tuned!!