Beef Braised with Caramelized Onions and Beer

Beef braised with caramelized onions and beer is a staple in my menu repertoire. It is easy to make and it freezes well. Having this in the freezer saved me when some friends on their way home to Utah surprised us with a phone call saying they would like to stop by. Oh course you say yes and than try to figure out what the frack you are going to feed them.

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We ran through a few ideas and ended up keeping it simple by pulling this and some rolls out of the freezer. Since it was summer we had a salad from the garden and I whipped up a batch of Ruby Bars and viola we had a nice lunch ready for surprise guests.

This recipe hails from the now defunct Gourmet magazine. I miss Gourmet dearly, loved that magazine so much. It also goes by the unattractive name of Onion Beef on menu’s and when we talk about it. Leftovers are used for making French Dip sandwiches. Even if you only have onions leftover freeze them for French Dip jus or to add in gravy.

The onions are the key to this recipe, take the time and let them caramelize. They get all lovely and buttery. We tend to have Corona for beer and that’s what I use in this. Use whatever beer you like or if you don’t drink beef broth would work too.

Beef Braised with Caramelized Onions and Beer

3 pounds onions, peeled and sliced
1 – 5 pound chuck roast
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 bay leaves
2 – 12 oz bottles of beer
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar.

Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper and than brown beef in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Make sure you brown all the sides. When roast is browned set it on a plate. Add the rest of your oil into pan and make sure you have your burner on low. Add the onions along with the bay leaves and place a lid on your pot. The lid helps the onions sweat so they do not burn. Stir onions occasionally. Once they are nice and brown and smell sweet you know they are done. This step takes time but it is worth it, do not rush the onions. Preheat oven to 350. Put roast back in your pot and add the beer and vinegar. Cook for 3 1/2 hours.

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe and Weekly Menu for 3-16-14

Menu schmenu, this past week I banged out a menu on Saturday and by Sunday I didn’t like it anymore. Haven’t really made any of the dishes that were on my menu other than freezer soup and the stuffed zucchini. I did attempt to make a scheduled meal last night but the lamb shoulder wasn’t thawed enough and I kind of space caked putting it into the oven. Yeah, I started on a move furniture project and forgot.

Sunday – Stuffed Zucchini
Monday – Ginger Pork chops, rice, and asparagus (not the planned meal)
Tuesday – Freezer Soup
Wednesday – Costco
Thursday – Lamb Shoulder, gnocchi, and asparagus Tacos
Friday – Easy
Saturday – Corned beef and cabbage

I keep trying to get the family on board with my tomato sauce over these. There is much resistance so I keep using the tomato soup from a can. Its just how it is sometimes. This recipe is easy to customize use your favorite grain instead of rice (I had leftover rice makes it so easy.) Don’t want meat leave it out. Change up the herbs if you want too. I’ve been on an Italian seasoning kick as of late so that’s what I used.
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1 pound ground meat of choice, I used beef
2 to 3 cups rice
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
3 oz. feta
1/4 cup pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
2 to 4 zucchini, depends on size
2 cans of tomato soup or 1 quart homemade tomato sauce
2 cans of water

Brown meat and while that’s happening slice zucchini into boats and scoop out the innards. Rough chop innards and toss them in with the meat when its browned. Finish browning meat scoop off fat if needed. Saute your zucchini insides until soft and add Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.

Put meat in medium bowl with rice and pine nuts and mix. Add about half your feta and stir that in. Place zucchini in 13×9 pan and put stuffing in the hollow. I just pack it on, the best stuffing is what is not in the actual zucchini.

If using the soup option dump it into the bowl with two cans of water and mix it up and pour over it all. If using your own sauce just pour it over. Sprinkle the rest of feta on top and cover with tin foil. Pop into a 400 degree oven and cook for an hour. Check zucchini for softness, you want it to be fairly soft. If you your fork won’t go through cook it longer. Thick zucchini takes longer. So give yourself plenty of time.

Weekly Menu for 3-2-14 and Chicken and Dumpling Recipe

Not much to say this week, the cooking dinner slump is starting to resolve itself which is nice. Tried a new recipe it was the pork shoulder with tomatoes, not a favorite. It had a bitter taste to it from all the paprika and it was just okay. If a recipe is just alright I know we don’t really love it enough to make again. Often the second time round got it a no. Life is too short for mediocre food.

Sunday – Stuffed Shells & garlic bread
Monday – Steak baked potato, veg
Tuesday -Turkey Tacos
Wednesday – Chicken and Dumplings
Thursday- Pork shoulder with tomatoes, noodles, green beans
Friday – Easy
Saturday- Stove top Mac-n-Cheese, spinach

This week recipe is a family favorite. The soup part is improvised depending on mood and what I have on hand. We are out of celery, used the last of it in the spaghetti sauce I made last week. So I subbed celery seed in this to give it more flavour. The dumpling recipe is originally from Fanny Farmer but I’ve modified. I also double the dumpling recipe. This recipe will freeze fine if you do not expect to have actual dumplings intact. They disintegrate and create a pleasantly thick soup. Dumplings are also an easy way to perk up leftover soup. Just make sure you have enough liquid.
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Chicken and Dumplings

Soup
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 packet chicken breast or tenders (about a pound), cut up
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 pound greens (I used collards)
2 quarts stock
parsley.

Saute onion until translucent add garlic celery, and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes and add chicken, let it cook for a couple of minutes. Add stock and greens, bring it to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes meanwhile get the dumplings ready. Turn heat down before adding dumplings. You want it simmering.

Dumplings
1 cup flour
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (1 slice bread)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, well beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup milk or milk substitute

To make the bread crumbs use your immersion blender and use the bowl for the dumplings for blitzing. The immersion blender works like a dream. Otherwise use your blender. I use our everyday bread from Wheat Montana.

Put flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl with bread crumbs and stir. Add the egg, butter, and milk. Stir until blended. You can do the dry ahead of time if you want to and add the liquid before cooking.

Use a spoon and plop dumplings into soup. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Do not check, do not take lid off, its hard not to look. Put heat on low and let cook undisturbed.

Weekly Menu 2-23-14 and Sweet Potato Fries

I’m in I don’t want to cook dinner mode. I’d rather be cooking for fun than well dinner. Trying to keep it basic and not too crazy since I don’t want to cook dinner. Everyone cycles in and out of I don’t want to cook dinner, it passes. So don’t worry when you get in that mode.

The menu that looks so neat and tidy on here is nothing of the sort. Sunday was supposed to be the steak, but OMG didn’t feel like cooking, that’s a big surprise. Pulled out the Bolgenese one night since I didn’t feel like cooking. Realized that all I had left for red pasta sauces is a lamb ragu. Which reminds me we should have lamb next week. I digress. The point is prepared for the I don’t want to cooks. Having stuff in the freezer makes getting through this much easier.

Sunday – Freezer Soup and corn muffins
Monday – Steak, bulgar pilaf, and the last of the Asparagus
Tuesday – Bolognese and pasta
Wednesday – Sloppy Janes and Sweet potato fries
Thursday -BBQ Ribs, baked potato, green beans
Friday – Easy night Malibu Turkey burgers, oven fries, spinach
Saturday – Stuffed Shells

We love these simple oven fries. I like to use a high heat to get some nice caramelization on them. If they start getting to dark drop the heat down.
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Sweet Potato Oven Fries
Serves 3

1 big and one medium sweet potato, cut up into sticks
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500. Peel and cut up sweet potatoes. Place on baking sheet and toss with oil and salt and pepper. Pop into oven and cook for 10 minutes. Stir after 10 minutes and cook for another 10 minutes stir again and set timer for 10 minutes. Total cooking time is 30 minutes. Sometimes I need to drop the heat down to 450 after the first 20 minutes.

Corn Muffins

Here’s an easy week night muffin to go with soup or any dinner for that matter. make sure you cornmeal is a whole grain for maximum taste. An easy way to make this even faster at dinner time is to have your dry ingredients mixed together ahead of time.
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These corn muffins were a nice change from the usual rolls or cornbread we have with soups. Plus they are in muffin form which makes the extras easy to freeze. The recipe says it makes 12 muffins but I got 18 muffins. What we didn’t eat got popped into the freezer for another dinner.
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Corn Muffins from the Joy of Muffins
2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups butter milk or milk substance of choice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon oil

Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, honey, and oil in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine until mixed. Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake until done. Bake at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes. This batter will be runny but firms up, so don’t worry.

Weekly Menu for 2-16-14 and Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

You might have noticed last week didn’t really follow the plan very much as we didn’t have a couple of things. That’s just part of life and you just have to deal with it and modify your plan. Believe me its a bummer when one of those items is the recipe you are using for a blog. We survived.

This week will hopefully be better. I’ve been still trying a lot of new recipes lately and that’s not always the case. I go in streaks with trying new stuff. Don’t go crazy and make everything you are cooking new, you will freak out at some point and end up not doing it. One new recipe a week is plenty.

Sunday – Sweet and Sour Chicken, zucchini, and rice
Monday – Freezer soup, bread
Tuesday – Hopefully Costco as we are running out of veg.
Wednesday – White Enchiladas (finally)
Thursday – Onion Beef, spaetzle veg,
Friday – Easy night
Saturday – Salisbury Steak, mashed taters, veg

This weeks recipe is a new one for us. I usually don’t make sweet and sour anything if we have stir fry its usually soy and ginger based so this is a nice variation. I don’t have any peppers but I do have zucchini that needs to be ate so we are having that on the side. Don’t let convention hold you back if you lack an ingredient that is not integral to the recipe.

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The results were stellar, everyone loved it and wants to have it again in the future. The recipe was easy to make and super delicious. The lack of peppers made it visually made it look a bit blonde but did not impinge on the flavour of it. Its a nice lighter alternative to restaurant style sweet and sour chicken.

Two notes: I used all the juice from my can of pineapple and next time will add the whole 14 oz. can of pineapple bits. We like sauce and two of found we really wanted more pineapple bits. Make that 3 the White Enchilada picture is finally up!

Sweet and Sour Chicken adapted from Food Network.
1 packet chicken tenders or breast, cut up into chunk
2 tablespoons neutral oil

Saute breast until cooked while this is happening assemble sauce.

1/2 cup or all your Pineapple juice
1 cup or the whole can of pineapple chunks
4 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

Mix in bowl and set aside for when chicken is cooked.

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped

add when chicken is done cook for one minute. Stir the sauce and pour into pan. Bring sauce to a boil and turn down, let cook for about 5 minutes.

Weekly Menu for 2-2-14 and Chil Verde recipe

You will notice the reappearance of Chili Verde on the menu this week as it got scratched last week. I’d done a fairly hard session of weight that day after working and by the time I hit dinner it was all down hill, or is that up hill? I realized I had to go out the garage and get more stuff and than the pot I needed wasn’t clean. The pot pushed me over the edge. We had quesadillas instead.
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So it is back this week. Its kind of nice when you can roll a dinner over to the next week one less meal to think about. This Chili Verde recipe comes from the Joy of Cooking, it originally uses chicken. We didn’t care for it with chicken but overall liked it. I made it with pork and loved it that way. I usually use pork tenderloin or chops for this. You can use a tougher cut just make sure to adjust cooking times for the meat.

This recipe makes enough for a dinner and lunch. It freezes well so feel free to big batch it if you want to. A friend in Canada won a chili cook off with this recipe.

Sunday – Lamb Ragu, garlic bread
Monday – Steak, baked potato, and asparagus
Tuesday – Chili Verde
Wednesday – meatball sandwiches
Thursday- Karcho, bread sticks, Freezer soup
Friday – Easy night
Saturday – White Turkey (from freezer) enchiladas

Chili Verde – adapted from The Joy of Cooking
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup celery
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Cook on medium heat until vegetable are tender about 5 minutes, Sprinkle with:

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cook about 1 minute. Meanwhile cut up:
2 pound pork tenderloin

Add to pot and cook for 3 minutes. While pork is cooking drain and cut up

1 cup canned tomatillo ( you can use fresh if you want to)
1 large bunch of cilantro (reserved the leaves for later)
Finely chop cilantro stems and leaves separately.
Add stems to pot with 3 cups chicken stock (use two cups if you wan less sauce.)

4 oz. green chilis chopped (I use canned)
2 fresh jalapeños (optional)
Add to pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cilantro leaves and cook for 10 more minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons lime juice at the end and correct seasons. Serve with tortillas and rice or just eat by itself.

Note: I bump up the chilis and drop the jalapeños as a member of our family does not tolerate hot/spicy food well. The recipe still turns out great.

Weekly Menu 12-22-13 and Bacon and Olive Stuffed Mushrooms

Holiday weeks tend to mean a bit richer food and a dedicated dessert. I try to keep the dinners surrounding more complicated dinners simple. Takes a bit of the stress off one. We try to keep it more simple on Christmas Eve but still special, it seems like we alternate between homemade pelmini and store bought tortellini in broth. Christmas Day is a nice dinner and we all just chill out.

Sunday – Sausage and kale pasta bake (freezer)
Monday – Leftovers this is so rare for me. Usually lunch kills them off.
Tuesday: Christmas Eve – Tortellini and spinach soup, cream cheese stuffed mushrooms, bread and cookies for dessert while opening presents.
Wednesday: Christmas Day – Breakfast Spinach and mushroom eggbake and toasted pane tuscano.
Lunch: Antipasto tray.
Dinner: Lamb chops, potatoes gratin, green beans w/ roasted tomatoes. Tiramisu for dessert.
Thursday; Baked polenta (leftover from last week), steak, and brussels
Friday: Easy day ???
Saturday Freezer soup.

Ideas for next week are sloppy janes, pork and bulgar casserole, and lasagna. I write them down at the bottom or I will forget them.
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Stuffed mushrooms with Bacon and Olive (adapted from Bon Appetit)

4 slices bacon, cooked or 2 tablespoons real bacon bits
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
2 ounces cream cheese room temp.
sprinkle of garlic powder

Crumple up you bacon and put bacon, cream cheese, olives, and garlic powder in bowl. Mix this up well.

Clean mushrooms and pull out the stems. I do about 8 or so but am generous with the filling Save the stems for something else. Stuff the mushrooms sprinkle paprika over them. Cook at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Home Cooking: Pictures

I am a huge advocate for cooking your own food and having it be fabulous. Who wants to eat out when the fare at home is better. Here are a few pics of of food I have prepared at home.

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Managing Breakfast Tips

Do you eat breakfast?  I do. There were years and years where my breakfast consisted of a big glass of juice and coffee.  Breakfast can be one of the meals we have the least time to prepare and consume while getting ready for our day.  There is a lot that goes on in the morning.

One thing I learned about breakfast is to have several items at hand that are easy.  I started out with pre-packaged oatmeal but it is really hard to find one that is not super sweet or that does not include apple cinnamon which I am not a fan of.  The apple tastes fake and weird to me even with organic brands.  Smoothies never keep me full so I tend not to have those as a breakfast.

So how do you make breakfast fast and healthy?  Here are a few of my top tips.

1. Big batches of grain porridge: Irish (steel cut) oats, rolled oats, barley, quinoa, multi-grain hot cereals. I freeze them in bags, I like to put two cups in a bag that is two days of brekkie.

2. Yogurt, fruit, and granola.  Simple and easy just make sure your yogurt and granola are not sugar bombs. I like this granola paired with unsweetened yogurt.  You could also use nuts if you are off grains.

3. Egg bakes they reheat well. Kalyn’s Kitchen has some great recipes for them.  I linked my favorite.

4. This is a more recent addition to my breakfast repertoire Chia seed pudding with fruit.  Make the night before to make it really easy.

5. Leftovers, soup, and other savoury foods.  Don’t limit yourself to what we think of as breakfast food.

Do you have other ways to make breakfast easy and fast?  Leave a comment if you do, I love new ideas!