Beef and Guinness Stew (Casserole)

The ONLY thing good about winter, in my humble opinion, is the excuse to load up on all the comfort food my little heart desires 🙂  Today is SO cold and gloomy in my little corner of the world.  I COULD get out of my bed comfort zone and drive around looking for something lovely to photograph but that would just require me to have to learn how to actually USE my expensive new camera.  I wouldn’t want to hurt my brain so I think I’ll just stay home and cook:-)  Besides, I’m pretty hungry.

This is a recipe I use often because it’s absolutely DELISH!  I didn’t even have to alter the recipe.  It comes from a cookbook I bought in a little Irish town in Kentucky (Too bad I can’t remember the name of the town!  lol).  Ireland’s Comfort Food, Pidgeon’s Press

Beef and Guinness Casserole (*but it’s more like a stew!)

Ingredients:

2 TBSP oil

2 lbs beef, trimmed and cubed (*I use stew meat from chuck roast)

2 TBSP tomato puree (*I use tomato paste)

1- 14 oz can tomatoes, chopped

2 tsp mustard (*I use Dijon)

1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup Guinness beer (*I use any dark beer we happen to have)

3 3/4 cups chicken stock

pepper to taste

3 carrots, peeled and diced (*ok, I never dice my carrots)

2 large onions, peeled and sliced

4 mushrooms, sliced (*I don’t usually have mushrooms so it’s ok without)

1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water

2 TBSP parsley

boiled potatoes or rice for serving

Heat oil in a large pot, add the meat (be sure and don’t over crowd or the meat won’t brown) and cook until brown on all sides.  Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Guinness, chicken stock and pepper; cover with lid and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the vegetables, cover and cook an additional 40-50 minutes or until the meat is tender; add the cornstarch mixture to thicken if needed.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve over potatoes or rice.

Enjoy!

Individual Amish Beef Potpies

I’m feeling a little under the weather right now, be that as it may, dinner still has to be made, right?  I mean, if we want to eat, that is.  So what do I do when my heart isn’t really in it?  All I know is that I have a package of ground beef and I’m pretty disappointed with the recipes on Pinterest lately… SO I dug out one of the 100,000 cookbooks (yes, I collect cook books the way I collect shoes!).  This recipe comes from The Homestyle Amish Kitchen Cookbook, Harvest House Publishers.  I grabbed my daughter and we went to work making:

Individual Beef Potpies

1 beef bouillon cube

2 cups boiling water

3 1/2 cups cooked beef or cooked hamburger (*I used 1 1/2 lb ground beef)

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tsp salt (*I used 2 tsp)

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp pepper

1 package frozen mixed vegetables (*I used California Blend – Green Giant)

1/4 cup flour

pastry (see below)

Dissolve the bouillon cube in the 2 cups boiling water and add the beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt, sugar, paprika, and pepper.  Add the frozen vegetables and cook mixture for 5 minutes.  Combine the flour with enough water to make a thin paste and slowly add it into the meat and vegetable mixture.  Continue stirring and cooking until mixture thickens.  Keep warm.  When you have made the pastry, spoon the meat and vegetable mixture into 6 individual oven-proof custard cups or ramekins that are 6 to 8 ounces each.  Do not overfill (like I did!  lol)

Pastry

1 cup flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

3/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup shortening

4 TBSP cold water (I had to use about 8 TBSP)

Sift together the flour, cornmeal and salt.  Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle the water by tablespoonfuls over the mixture and stir lightly with a fork until just damp.  Then, using your hands, work dough gently and as little as possible until the dough holds together and forms a ball.  You might need to add a bit more cold water.

Divide dough into 6 parts and roll each to form a ball large enough to fit over the top of the meat and vegetables in each baking cup.  (Julia and I patted them kind of flat like you’d do if you were making hamburger patties).  Turn under and crimp edges.  Make several cuts (or make a cross) in the pastry to allow steam to escape while baking.

Bake at 450 for 12-14 minutes

 

I get it now, I really do…. My journey into Geekdom!

Watch this

This is so funny to me because I can relate! This grandpa couldn’t understand why his grandson wanted to play video games so much until the grandson showed him what all the fuss was about! He cracks me up with all the sounds he makes and to watch his excitement:-)

I get it now. I’ve been married to my husband for 10 years now and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made fun of him for spending so much time playing WOW (World of Warcraft). It just seemed SO geeky to me. I felt like the weekends should have been used to go on adventures or do those chores around the house that he put off during the week because, and I quote, “I’m a working man and when I get home from work, all I want to do is relax (and play WOW)”. First of all, REALLY??? Most men are working men and they still do their chores around the house, don’t they? Every time I’d ask to go fishing or ask him to help me do a chore, he’d say “Not now, I’m in a dungeon!”. OMG! This infuriated me! WTH does “I’m in a dungeon mean”? I’d watch as he’d type away to his other online equally geeky friends and I wanted to choke the ever loving $hi% out of him! Actually, I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type this…. This went on for literally YEARS and I’m not going to lie, I seriously considered divorce. I was always more of a “socialite” or a primadonna, diva even. I didn’t sign up for the world of Geek! He didn’t present that side of him UNTIL we were safely married.

But then, I considered that this is not my FIRST marriage and I AM getting older. The grass may really NOT be greener… So I decided that if I can’t beat them, join them. I was going to see what this WOW thing was all about. I told hubby to sign me up and I started playing… It took me a LONG time to admit that I kind of liked it! The only thing I refused to do was enter a “dungeon”. Dungeons were where the geeks hung out. Well……. there came a day, not too long ago where I became bored with the game and hubby convinced me that it was because I haven’t been in a dungeon. I reluctantly went with hubby to that dark world of dungeons and demons and monsters. For those of you not familiar with WOW, it’s set up to where you can interact with other players. For example, hubby would be on one computer and I on the other but we’re both on the same computer screen because we’ve entered the world or dungeon together. And here’s where it gets sad… I am now a geek. I LOVED slaying all the monsters alongside my husband! We were a force to be reckoned with! PLUS I was GOOD at it.

Now I get what all the fuss was about and I’m not so quick to want to strangle him when he blows me off for “the dungeon”. Have a wonderful and geeky day;-)

How I’ve been Inspired by a Child…

Bear with me while I brag just a little…  I’ve been recently inspired by my 14 year old and a group of her friends.  I honestly didn’t think it was possible for a group of teenagers to motivate me the way they’ve done.  Okay, so about a month ago my daughter came to me and told me about a plan that she and her friends had to start volunteering at local charities in our community.  It was really strange to me because the girl who came up with this idea was formerly a girl who had been into a lot of trouble.  She was born to a 14 year old mother who suffered from a mental disorder and consequently Julia’s friend was exposed to MANY men who sexually abused her, with no protection from her mother.  Naturally, this girl turned to drugs and sex at a VERY young age.  I have a heart for wayward kids because I, myself, was a wayward kid.  Where would I be if not for the love of other people outside my own family?  BUT…  now that I’m a mother, I have to draw the line somewhere.  I’d seen so much BAD from this girl and I had to make the decision to limit the time Julia was spending with her friend.  This hurt me because it went against everything I believed in but I needed to protect my own.  I still made myself available for the family and offered to babysit her little brothers (she’s got 4 of them because her mother just keeps having babies) in order that Julia’s friend and her mother could have a break.  I contacted this girl’s grandparents when she broadcasted a plan that she had to commit suicide.  This resulted in her being removed from her mother’s home and placed with her grandparents.   This is where her life turned around!  For over a year now “L” has been doing fantastic!  She’s SO smart, above average intelligence, and is now making straight “A’s” in school.  She became active in her church and just wanted to do something to give back to her community.  She felt like if she focuses her time on doing GOOD, it would help her with disposing of some of the “demons” in her own mind.  A year’s a pretty long time in the life of a 14 year old!  I’m so proud of her.  Besides, doing good makes us ALL feel pretty terrific, right?

SO, “L” printed out fliers announcing a meeting after school for anyone who wanted to be part of her little group of volunteers.  At first, there were only a few of them who were interested.  NOW, after a month, there’s around 10 kids and it’s still growing.  10 is a start though and it gives me SUCH a thrill to watch as these kids take pride in what they’re doing!  The first location they chose to volunteer at is a place called Heaven’s Closet.  They all met at the school EARLY on a Saturday morning and they departed for Heaven’s Closet where they sorted TONS of boxes of clothes and assisted many needy families with choosing 5 free items per family.  These kids were able to see so many people who were in desperate situations, like one woman who’d lost everything in a fire the week before.  Of course, SHE received more than 5 free items for her household.  Our kids came home glowing because they felt like they were needed.  I’m telling you, doing good is contagious!  Unfortunately, Heaven’s Closet lost their lease so the next time our kids volunteered there was the LAST time.  They helped pack up all the merchandise they’d previously put on the shelves and moved to a different charitable organization.

Last Saturday, the group was scheduled to work at a local food pantry but they were called at the last second and told that they couldn’t be used.  I personally think the food pantry didn’t want to deal with a bunch of teenagers, which is sad.  BUT, that didn’t deter “L”!  She got on the ball immediately and called a local nursing home to ask if they could spend time with some of the elderly patients.  Upon being given the okay, “L” quickly baked some cookies so they could all hand out to the “old folks”.  Now, my daughter has been visiting nursing homes for many years and she’s learned to absolutely LOVE the old people.  She shines when it comes to interacting with them and my shy girl, who normally only has 10 words a day to say, suddenly becomes very “chatty” with them!  I LOVE that!  I’ve always had a soft spot for the elderly, myselfJ  It turns out that the group spent 4 hours at the nursing home, feeding them cookies and playing basketball with some of the residents!  Who knew that they would be ABLE to play basketball?  Lol  Some of them were wheel chair bound but our kids still got them involved by throwing the ball back and forth.  The old people absolutely LOVED it and can’t wait for the kids to come back to see them.  I don’t know if any of you have experienced visiting an old folks home but if you haven’t, you definitely SHOULD.  It will fill your heart with so much love!  Some of these people have no visitors and nobody except the busy nurses to talk to.  They light up when they see someone look them in the eye and just smile or ask them how their day is.  It seems like they live to see the face of a child!  If you’re lucky enough to develop a relationship with an older person, LISTEN to them.  They have so much wisdom to share!  Our kids are discovering this and can’t wait to get back there again this weekend.  The plan is that ALL of the kids are going to bake and distribute their goodies to many more people.  This is actually something my daughter does every weekend.  I bake and send whatever I’ve made with Julia and her dad when they go visiting.  They tell me that the old people get so excited when they see good food walk through their doors!.  They don’t get to eat homemade goodies often, if ever.  Usually what they’re fed is so bland and tasteless.

Usually when we think of a teenager, it’s not for a POSITIVE reason.  I’ll admit that after raising 4 girls, I have one foot in the grave!  Lol  However, when they do something like THIS group of kids has done, I beam with pride.  Yep!  They’ve inspired this old mom to get off her butt and DO something.  Now, I hope that YOU go out and do the same for someone else.  If you don’t have time to volunteer, please make the time to perform a simple act of kindness.  Look an old person or disabled person in the eye and smile.  Acknowledge their existence.  You’ll be surprised at how this makes YOU feel.  I’ve realized what this group of kids are realizing now… that volunteering or just doing “good” makes me feel so much better than it does the person or group that I’m trying to help.  Sometimes, it’s what the doctor ordered!  Hope you all have a blessed and FANTASTIC day!

On the Superbowl Menu?

As I’m being constantly reminded…. Super Bowl is only a few days away!  What will you be making?  Here’s one of my ideas.  I’ve made this time and time again and it’s ALWAYS so freaking delicious.  Here’s the catch:  Make more than one batch because TRUST me, you’ll go through them.  I usually make 3 batches and they’re STILL all gone.  Oh and use tortilla SCOOPS.  It makes stuffing a whole lot easier.  So with no further ado, I bring you ……. (oh and as always, my notes are notated with a * and parenthesis)

Roast Chicken-Chipotle Nachos with Cilantro-Avocado Crema

Roast Chicken-Chipotle Nachos with Cilantro-Avocado Crema Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (*I just used 2 tsp cumin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 to 2 canned chipotle chilies, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups bite-size shreds skinned cooked chicken (*I used a store bought rotisserie chicken because it’s SO much easier)
  • 24 corn tortilla chips (2 3/4 in. wide) (**I use scoops)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded jack cheese (6 oz.) *(I have always used cheddar and it’s SO tasty)
  • Cilantro-Avocado Crema (recipe follows)
  • 24 fresh cilantro leaves

Preparation

  1. 1. In a 2 1/2- to 3-quart pan over medium-high heat, frequently stir onion in olive oil until onion begins to brown, 4 to 7 minutes. Add cumin seeds and oregano; stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chilies, tomato paste, vinegar, and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring often, to blend flavors, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and stir until hot.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, arrange tortilla chips in a single layer in a 12- by 17-inch pan. Sprinkle equal portions of cheese on each chip and spoon about 1 tablespoon chicken mixture on top.
  3. 3. Bake in a 450° regular or convection oven until cheese begins to bubble, about 3 minutes. With a spatula, carefully transfer tortilla chips to a platter. Top each with 1 teaspoon Cilantro-Avocado Crema and garnish with a cilantro leaf. Serve warm.
  4. Cilantro-Avocado Crema. In a small bowl, mix 1/3 cup finely diced firm-ripe avocado, 2 tablespoons sour cream, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves, 2 teaspoons lime juice, and 2 teaspoons milk. Add salt to taste. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Zero’s Chili (reblogged)

Today’s a PERFECT day for chili in the great Midwest!  I decided to try a different recipe from a blog I’m following.  http://captainofcuisine.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/zeros-chili/comment-page-1/#comment-330 Here’s the link but I’ve also copied and pasted his recipe and made notations with the changes I made.  This is a wonderful base recipe and I’ll definitely be using it as a regular!  Hope you enjoy!  Oh and Thanks to weckeman for sharing!

Zero’s Chili

Ingredients-

– 3 Pounds of ground round (or meat loaf mix, ground sausage or a combination of any the 3, your choice.  For vegetarians, 3 pounds of Morningstar Farms Grillers crumbles (TVP) taste great!)

– 1 Large can of whole tomatoes (pureed) (Just put them in the blender)

– 1 Small cans of tomato paste

– 5 Cans of red kidney beans with liquid (10 to 12 ounce cans each)

– 2 packages of chili seasoning mix (I used taco seasoning cause that’s what I had)

– 4 Medium green peppers (diced small) (I only had 3 green peppers so that’s what I used)

– 3 Medium onions (diced small)

– 2 Caps fulls of white vinegar

– 2 Tablespoons of butter

– 1/2 Tablespoons of garlic powder

– 1/2 Tablespoon of gravy master (I used 1 TBSP)

– 3 Tablespoons of olive oil

– Salt and pepper (to taste)

– 3 Teaspoons of ground cumin  (I added 4 tsp)

– A little water to thin to desired consistency (optional)

***I added 3 to 4 canned chipoltles in adobo sauce for extra heat.  It still didn’t make the chili TOO hot

****I also added 1 TBSP chili powder

Instructions-

1. Clean, chop, prepare and arrange all ingredients.

2. In a large heavy saucepan, brown meat (or meatless meat) while breaking it down with a spatula.

3. When meat is all browned and broken down to it’s smallest form, begin to drain all the fat you can.

4. Add pureed tomatoes and paste, chili mix and 1 cup of water and bring it to a simmer- stirring frequently.

5. Lightly coat a frying pan with olive oil and begin to sauté your peppers and onions until slightly limp and translucent.  Then add them to the chili

6. Add 1 cup of boiling water to the frying pan and de-glaze to get any remaining flavor. Add to the chili

7. Add all other ingredients except the beans and their liquid to the chili.

8. Simmer, stirring occasionally for at least 1 hour.

9. Add beans and liquid and continue simmering for another half an hour.

10. Serve with grated cheddar or parmesan cheese, Italian bread, ice cold beer and Sriracha.  Some people prefer it over rice.  Enjoy!

 

Movie Review: Beasts of the Southern WIld

I’m late to the game on this one but I just saw a little film called Beasts of the Southern Wild directed by Benh Zeitlin.  It completely blew me away!  I can’t even begin to do justice for the performance of a tiny little girl named Quvenzhane Wallis!  In a nutshell, the movie is about a little girl named Hushpuppy growing up on the Delta with only her sick Daddy to take care of her.  They live in sort of a homeless community that they call The Bathtub and they’ve learned to be completely self reliant.  Hushpuppy is almost an orphan and a 100% Wild child but I fell completely in love with her!

Do yourself a favor and if you haven’t seen it, see it now!  My husband even loved it and he’s usually only into action, fantasy or sci- fi flicks.  Actually, it was his idea to watch this on On Demand tonight.  Way to go Honey!

Check out their link:

http://www.beastsofthesouthernwild.com/screenings/international