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

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.

 

 

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Living on this joyous little island on the wonderful Eastern Shore you’re sure to eat your fair share of clam chowder. For me, there’s nothing more fun than strapping on a  pair of old canvas sneakers, finding a muddy sandbar at low tide, and digging your toes around in the mud until you run into you fill up your bucket with fresh quahogs. Or as well call them, “chowders”.

The big guys aren’t good for much besides soups and clam strips. So, I’ll usually make a batch of chowder when we come across some. About 2 dozen will be more than enough to make a large pot of chowder.

There are a couple ways you can go when it comes to clam chowder. The most well-known is your New England variety, which is cream based. That’s the husband’s favorite, and I plan on sharing that recipe with you soon. But today I’m sharing my recipe for Manhattan, which is tomato based, and my personal favorite…

Bacon, potatoes, celery, onions, tomatoes, and clams. Basic, but oh so delicious.  Now, I realize some of you may not be able to come across fresh clams as easily as I am. In that case, a couple cans of clams and a some bottled clam juice works just fine.

But, if you have a great seafood counter or shop in your neighborhood I’d highly encourage you to try to find some fresh. They’re cheap as far as it goes on the seafood spectrum, and the flavor is unparalleled.

A perfect dinner for these chilly fall evenings, that holds onto one last taste of summer. Make sure to make some homemade oyster crackers to go along with it, they’re the perfect topping and only take a few minutes to throw together. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Source: adapted from Simply Recipes

Homemade Oyster Crackers

Oyster crackers. They are probably something you don’t even think about, unless you’re ordering a bowl of clam chowder or crab soup. Usually, we’ll just use broken-up pieces of saltines for a crunchy bite to top our soup with – but yesterday I was feeling particularly ambitious!

Turns out they were super easy to make, requiring only a few ingredients. The hardest part was cutting and transferring all the little squares to the baking sheet. And that little amount of work totally paid off, the taste and texture was about a million times better than you’d find in the store-bought crackers.

In fact, we loved them so much, it’s got me thinking about what other crackers I can make here at home!  I know these would be great with additions thrown in as well, like fresh (or dried!) herbs. Or even just a little bit of black pepper. Will definitely be making these again!

Source: adapted from Serious Eats