Beef Stew

The chapter we call winter is finally coming to a close. And while I’m super excited to welcome spring, I’ll definitely miss those warm stick-to-your-rib meals that we get to enjoy during those cold months. One of my favorites is this hearty beef stew. It’s a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that I’ve been making for close to 10 years now, and for good reason – because it’s absolutely delicious.

I love taking a tough cut of beef like a chuck roast and turning it into the tender chunks that melt in your mouth. The addition of red wine to the stew adds such wonderful richness and depth of flavor, and really compliments and brings out all the wonderful flavors in the beef. Red potatoes, carrots, and peas also come to the party for a dip in the tub. Troublemakers.

It makes a large pot full that is plenty for supper one evening, and then enough leftovers for several lunches worth. And like with all stews and soups, it just gets better as time progresses. It also freezes wonderfully for an easy meal when you don’t feel like cooking. Definitely one of our favorites!

SOURCE: The New Best Recipe by America’s Test Kitchen

Scallion and Beef Stir-Fry

Fake-out take out is one of my favorite things to make at home. Whether it’s lo mein, General Tso’s, egg rolls, a stir-fry, or just simple veggie fried rice…it’s always a hit around here! We don’t have any greasy Chinese places here on our tiny seaside island. And the one great place we do have, Saigon Village, is closed during the winter months. Counting down the days until she re-opens in the spring!

So, needless to say – I’m DIYing it on the Chinese field in the kitchen quite a bit these days. This was a new recipe that I tried last week. It was super quick, easy, and everyone really enjoyed it. I loved the tender-crisp slivers of onion and pieces of scallion mixed throughout. And the sauce! I’ll usually make my stir-fry sauces with a base of chicken stock. But the use of oyster sauce as a base produced a sauce that was rich and brown, absolutely delicious!

I served over a bed of rice with some steamed broccoli on the side. Another great bonus is it takes less than 20 minutes to cook, from start to finish. You couldn’t have take-out on the table that quickly, even if you wanted to!

Source: adapted from Rasa Malaysia

Salisbury Steak

Every once in a blue moon, I’ll get a hankering for a Salisbury steak TV dinner. But ugh, the sodium and all the other crap I can’t pronunciate that stares at me from the ingredient listing…I just can’t get passed it. So, when I came across a really great deal on ground beef this week – I thought why not make this retro classic at home?

Seasoned beef patties are browned in a skillet, then mushrooms and onions are sauteed down in the pan drippings to create a rich and delicious brown gravy, that the “steaks” simmer in for a few minutes to finish cooking. I love the flavor that the red wine lends to the sauce – it plays off of the beef and mushroom flavors so well. I used portobello mushrooms since I happened to have some gorgeous ones gifted to me recently (thanks, Donna!), but cremini or even white button mushrooms could be substituted.

I served alongside mashed potatoes and green peas to complete the TV dinner ensemble at home, but homemade macaroni and cheese would also be another classict choice. Everyone really enjoyed it!

This recipe makes about 6 steaks – enough for us to enjoy for dinner , and a couple lunches worth of leftovers for us. Which is a major score, considering that they reheat so darn well. Another one for the recipe box, I’m always happy to find something new and different to make with ground beef!

Chili con Carne

Chili is one of those dishes that everyone has their own special recipe for, which they swear by as being the best. Mine is no different! Meaty, spicy, and filling – it’s one of the things my boys most look forward to in the colder months. There’s nothing better than a pot of chili bubbling away on the stove on a lazy football Sunday!

I like to start with a mix of lean ground beef and a roll of hot pork sausage, plenty of beans, chunks of chopped tomatoes, and some tomato paste to thicken it up a bit. Then, some beer. It adds so much great flavor to the chili, and I’m always looking for an excuse to cook with the stuff. But, you could certainly use beef broth for your cooking liquid as well.

A couple hours simmering on the stove and you’ve got a delicious and hearty meal that’s always a family favorite. Leftovers are good for days, and great to re-invent into so many applications (Frito pie or chili dogs, anyone?). And, it’s great for a group too. A low maintenance meal for the cook, and guests can have tons of fun topping their bowls of chili with different ingredients – scallions, cilantro, sour cream, cheeses, jalapenos, guacamole, tomatoes or pico de gallo, poblano-corn salsa…the possibilities are endless!

Also, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the ingredients in the chili itself. I love to switch it up using a chuck roast instead of the ground beef and sausage. Or, using black and pinto beans in place of the kidneys. It’s so easy to make your own! So, if you’re still looking for that one perfect chili recipe, give this one a try! It’s our favorite, and it might just become yours too.

Chili con Carne

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground sirloin
1 lb bulk roll hot sausage (like Jimmy Deen)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
6 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (15 oz) can light kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can dark kidney beans
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (12 oz) can or bottle beer (your favorite is fine)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef and sausage until browned well. Remove from pan into a bowl. Drain most of the rendered fat from the pan.

Throw onions into the pan and cook until onions are softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the tomato paste and spices, and cook for about 3 minutes – until the tomato paste darkens in color. Add in the beef and sausage, tomatoes, beans, and beer. If it looks like it needs a little more liquid, add a splash of water.

Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Cook over low heat for about 2 hours. You could also cook up to this point, then place all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving. Serve with your favorite toppings.