Cozy Chicken Pot Pie

potpie.jpg

There is nothing quite like a steaming hot Chicken Pot Pie to warm the soul. It is one of the quintessential comfort foods and the perfect to meal to serve on a cold winter night. It might surprise you to know that making a Chicken Pot Pie from scratch is actually easier than you think. A few basic ingredients and just a few minutes of your time and you’ll have this on the dinner table in no time!

This recipe, which is my all time favorite, comes from the Epicurious website, click here to check it out online. The great thing about a pot pie is that you have the flexibility to play around with the filling and the spices to create a flavor profile that suits your palette. You can substitute turkey for the chicken, add in more veggies, change-up the vegetables and so on and so forth. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I do not care for mushrooms so I leave them out of my pot pie. Instead I use diced Yukon Gold potatoes, a bit of sliced celery and if I have them in the house, I love pearl onions over regular diced onion. I also use a nice chicken stock instead of broth as I find the flavor to be far richer and more complex than that of chicken broth. Kitchen Basics® is my favorite brand but any stock will work just as well. For an even creamier base, add a touch of cream to the stock once it’s thickened. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 package (17.3 ounces) puff pastry sheets, thawed
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 3 medium onions, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves or 1 tbs minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

Heat the oven to 400°F. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 12-inch square. Press the pastry into a 2-quart round casserole. Trim the excess pastry. Prick the pastry thoroughly with a fork. Place aluminum foil onto the surface of the pastry. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil after baking.

While the puff pastry bakes, heat the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and cook and stir for 3 minutes or until the flour is golden brown. Slowly stir in the broth and heat to a boil. Cook and stir until the mixture boils and thickens.

Stir in the mustard, thyme, black pepper, chicken, peas and 3 tablespoons parsley. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Unfold the remaining pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Cut the pastry sheet crosswise into 6 (1 1/2-inch thick) strips.

Spoon the chicken mixture into the casserole. Weave a lattice pattern over the filling with the pastry strips. Trim any excess pastry. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Place the casserole onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the filling is hot and bubbling and the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot.

**Note – While a lattice topped pot pie is very pretty you can save yourself time by simply placing the whole puff pastry sheet on top of the pot pie as seen above. Crimp the edges and cut 2-3 vent slits in the pastry and bake as directed.**

 

Boeuf Bourguignonne (Beef Burgundy)

beef burgundy

When winter finally makes it arrival all I crave is warm, cozy comfort food. Boeuf Bourguignonne, also known as Beef Burgundy, is a classic French dish that is rich, savory and soul warming and it is one of my favorite dishes on a cold winter night. It is cooked low and slow in red wine and beef stock which makes for a deep, flavorful stew. As the dish simmers, the alcohol will burn away leaving behind a rich, complex flavor. Beef Burgundy originated in the Burgundy region of France so as you would expect, a nice Burgundy wine works well in this dish. Other good choices are a Beaujolais, Pinot Noir or any other French red wine from that area.

I came across this particular recipe a few years ago in a publication by Paula Deen entitled, “Cooking With Paula Deen“. (November 2013, Vol. 9 Issue 6) She calls for mushrooms however, as I don’t care for them I chose to leave them out. Also, she recommended adding the carrots in the last 30 minutes of cooking but I find in that short of a time the carrots do not soften and you’re left with hard, crunchy pieces which is not what you want in this dish. Therefore, I like to add them in with the beef, wine, stock and spices and allow them to simmer for the full 2.5 hours, I find the texture is much better with the extra cooking time.

Unlike a traditional stew where you cook chunks of potatoes with the meat and other vegetables, this dish is served over mashed potatoes . I like to take it one step further and serve them over garlic mashed, I love the extra flavor it adds to this dish. For instructions on making garlic mashed potatoes, see the note at the bottom of my Homemade Mashed Potatoes recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 lbs chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.4 ounce) bag frozen pearl onions
  • 1 (8 ounce) package sliced baby portobello mushrooms, optional
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 (32 ounce) carton beef stock
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper.

Add the beef to the pan and cook until browned on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef and set aside. Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender. Return the beef to the pan with the stock, wine, carrots, thyme and bay leaves.

Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 2 hours. Add the frozen peas and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more.

Serve over Homemade Mashed Potatoes

 

Brown Gravy Meatballs Over Buttered Noodles

gravy meatballs

I absolutely love me some homemade meatballs and I could drink hot gravy by the gallon so I thought to myself, why not bring these two delicious things together? Brown Gravy Meatballs over Buttered Noodles is a really warm, cozy meal that is perfect for the cool nights of autumn. It’s also really easy to make and the best part?……………it’s kid friendly too! What kid doesn’t love buttered pasta and meatballs? My kids devoured this meal and even asked for seconds!

To make the meatballs, I used my Italian Meatball recipe but I just rolled them smaller into bite-sized servings. I like to bake them simply because you don’t have to pay attention as you do when frying but if you prefer to fry, that is perfectly fine too. You can even make these meatballs ahead of time which really speeds up the cooking of this meal. Simply thaw the cooked mini meatballs and add them right to the hot gravy mixture to warm through. So easy!

In our house we LOVE gravy and when making pasta dishes such as this one my husband specifically asks for his noodles to be very “saucy”. Therefore, I like to double the brown gravy so we have plenty to go around and if there are any leftovers, they will stay more moist in the fridge. You can use beef broth in this recipe as well but I much prefer beef stock as it has a much richer, beefier flavor. Kitchen Basics® brand is my go-to but any brand will suffice. Lastly, add as much (or as little) red wine as you’d like, no need to measure and be overly specific here. The red wine adds a really nice, rich flavor to the finished brown gravy. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 1 lb of 80% ground beef or a combination of beef and pork
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 tbs fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 slices white bread, crusts removed and moistened with water

For the brown gravy

  • 2 cups beef stock, divided
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs ketchup
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • splash of red wine

For the finished dish

  • 1 lb wide egg noodles
  • 6 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • fresh parsley, for garnish

Instructions

For the meatballs – Preheat oven to 350ºF. Except for the white bread, combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix until just combined, do not over mix or the meatballs will be tough. Break off small pieces of the moistened bread and add it to the meatball mixture. Mix into the meat and then continue to add more bread until it’s all combined.

Form the meat into bite-sized meatballs and place them about 1″ apart on a sheet pan lined with a Silpat® or aluminum foil. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Alternatively, the meatballs can also be fried in oil until crispy and golden brown.

For the gravy – Whisk together 1/2 cup beef stock and cornstarch in a small bowl, set aside. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a pan. Add the onions to the skillet and cook until golden brown and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups beef stock, Worcestershire and ketchup and mix until well combined. Add to the pan along with a splash of red wine. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch mixture. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Add more beef stock as needed until desired consistency is reached.

To finish – Add the cooked mini meatballs to the sauce and stir to coat. Keep warm over low heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the egg noodles to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the softened butter.

Place the buttered noodles on a large serving platter and top with the brown gravy meatballs and sauce. Garnish with parsley, Serve hot.

**TIP – Make the mini meatballs ahead of time and freeze them for later use in this dish. Thaw the cooked meatballs and then add them right to the hot gravy mixture to warm through. Proceed according to recipe instructions.**

Honey Sesame Chicken with Pineapple

honey sesame chicken.jpg

Nothing beats a quick and easy dinner especially on those days when you’re exhausted but still need to get dinner on the table. This recipe is super flavorful and as delicious, if not better, than take-out! Even your pickiest eater should enjoy this sweet and sticky chicken meal.

My kids are huge rice eaters so I like to serve this meal over white or brown rice which is also nice and filling. To make this meal even more complete you can add in some vegetables during baking. Good options are onion, green pepper or baby corn. You can even try a bag of frozen vegetables, Bird’s Eye® makes a delicious Asian Medley blend that you can steam right in the microwave and add after the chicken comes out of the oven. This meal also reheats nicely so you can have a delicious lunch the next day too. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 2 lbs
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 can pineapple chunks, drained

For the sauce

  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Clean the chicken of any fat and cut into bite size pieces. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add the cornstarch to a large Ziploc® bag. In batches, add the chicken to the bag and shake to coat. Remove chicken and dip lightly in the egg. Set aside on a plate.

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Place the chicken into the 9X13 baking dish. cover evenly with the drained pineapple chunks.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce and pour evenly over the chicken and pineapple. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes during cooking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over white rice.

**Tip – If you prefer your pineapple a little more firm, you can add them in the last 20 minutes of cooking instead of at the beginning.**

 

 

Crock-Pot Ribs with Homemade BBQ Sauce

ribs

Who doesn’t love a good, charred, meaty rib slathered in rich BBQ sauce? I know I do and these ribs are so delicious and absolutely perfect for your next summer BBQ! Unlike traditional rib recipes which can be time-consuming this recipe is as easy as 1-2-3 and produces a perfectly tender and super yummy piece of meat. The recipe comes from one of my most favorite cookbooks, The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook 10th Anniversary Edition: Every Recipe and Every Review From All Ten Seasons .

Aside from the recipe being foolproof, the BBQ sauce is divine! You’ll never go back to a bottled version again. You can make a batch of this BBQ sauce anytime and use it on chicken, burgers or any other grilled meat. Save yourself time when making the sauce (and the ribs!) by mixing together a batch of the spice rub ahead of time. Triple the recipe and store it in a small spice jar in your cabinet. Anytime that you need a flavorful spice rub or you want to make homemade BBQ sauce you’ll have the mixed spices already on hand.

This recipe calls for St.-Louis style ribs however, when I was in the store they were out so I went ahead and used bone-in country-style ribs instead. They were nice and meaty and worked really well in this recipe. As a bonus, since they come individually cut there was no need to trim the ribs beforehand or separate them after cooking.

Lastly, to finish the ribs the recipe has you using your boiler which is perfectly fine and simple however, I chose to finish them off on the grill. Follow the same steps as if you were broiling the ribs only instead of putting them under the broiler, put them on the grill for a few minutes until nice and charred. The ribs had the amazing smoky flavor of the grill as if they had been cooking on there for hours but with the simplicity of having being cooked in the slow cooker. This meal was a HUGE hit in my house. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the ribs

  • 2 tbs paprika
  • 1 tbs dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbs Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 3 lbs of St. Louis style ribs (each rack cut in half)  OR bone-in country-style ribs

For the BBQ sauce

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 6 tbs apple juice
  • 2 tbs molasses
  • 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke

Instructions

For the ribs – Combine the paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic in a bowl. Reserve 1 tbs of the spice rub for later use in the BBQ sauce. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and coat all over with the spice rub.

Arrange the ribs vertically with the thick ends pointing down and the meaty side against the interior of the slow cooker. It is fine if the ribs overlap. Cover and cook until ribs are just tender. Low setting, 6-7 hours OR high setting, 5-6 hours.

For the BBQ sauce – In a medium saucepan, whisk together the ketchup, apple juice, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pepper, liquid smoke and the reserved 1 tbs of spice rub. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced down to a cup, about 10 minutes.

To finish the ribs – Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack in the pan. Using tongs, transfer the ribs, meaty side up, to the rack. Let the ribs sit for about 10 minutes to allow the surface to dry out.

Adjust the oven rack 3″ from the broiler and heat. Liberally brush the ribs with about 1/2 cup of sauce and broil until bubbling and beginning to char, about 4 minutes. Remove the ribs from the oven, brush with the remaining 1/2 cup of sauce, tent with foil and let rest for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

**Tip – The BBQ sauce can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.**

Crock-Pot Pulled Chicken

 

pulled chicken

Pulled chicken is one of my favorite summer meals because it’s not only delicious but it’s super easy to make, especially in the Crock-Pot! You don’t need to heat up your oven and have it on for hours and you don’t even need to keep an eye on it as it cooks. The best part? It’ll come out perfect EVERY time!

I usually like to make my own BBQ sauce for this meal but it isn’t necessary so feel free to choose your favorite bottled BBQ sauce and run with it! The chicken will take about 6-7 hours on low, depending how thick your meat is. You will know it’s ready when it shreds easily with two forks. Also, you can substitute the chicken for pork however, you will need to increase the cooking time as the cut of pork is much bigger and thicker than a few chicken breasts. For pulled pork, I like to use a Boston butt which you can find in most grocery or warehouse stores. BJ’s® usually sells them for under $2/lb and you can easily feed a crowd.

I like to have the chicken cook in the BBQ sauce and I don’t add any additional water to the pot because the meat releases enough of its own juices. With the pulled chicken, you won’t need to drain any of the liquid however, the pork does release a ton of water and fat. When I make the Boston butt, I usually hold off on adding the BBQ sauce until the end. When it’s done cooking I pull the meat out, drain most of the liquid, place the meat back into the pot and then I add the BBQ sauce.

Serve on hearty rolls with a side of homemade coleslaw and you have a perfect summer meal that is sure to please everyone. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 – 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 bottle BBQ sauce, store-bought OR homemade

Instructions

Place the cleaned chicken breasts in the bottom of the Crock-Pot. Cover with the diced onion and season with salt and pepper. Add about half a bottle of BBQ sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until chicken shreds easily with a fork.

Remove the chicken from the pot. If the sauce is too thin, turn the Crock Pot up to high and let it simmer a little until it thickens. Shred the chicken and return it to the pot. Add additional BBQ sauce as needed. Serve hot.

Bruschetta Chicken

bruschetta chicken

Two of my most favorite foods are fresh basil pesto and fresh bruschetta. They are both light, flavorful and SCREAM summer!! Pair them with a nice piece of grilled chicken, a thick slab of fresh mozzarella and a crusty slice of oiled bread and you have yourself the perfect meal.

The inspiration for this dish came from a meal I had at a cute local restaurant by my house called “Pasta, Pasta“. After having it just once, I was craving it for days so I decided to come up with my own version which turned out fantastic. The key to this meal is fresh ingredients, well cooked chicken and a nice sturdy, crusty bread. I served it alongside pesto pasta which I know might be a tad bit of carb overload but sometimes you just need a little pasta!

This is a nice quick meal to pull together, especially if you already have your pesto prepared ahead of time. I always like to make a big batch of pesto and then freeze it in an ice cube tray. When you’re ready to use it, just pop a few cubes out and warm them up. As for Italian bread, I always buy extra when I am in the store so I can wrap and freeze a few loaves. Just take the bread out a little before you plan on eating dinner and allow it to defrost, it can be easily grilled (as I did in this recipe) or warmed in the oven. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breast, pounded thin
  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Italian bread, sliced thick and brushed with olive oil
  • Bruschetta
  • Basil Pesto
  • Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

If not made ahead of time, prepare the basil pesto and bruschetta.

In a large skillet, warm up 2-3 tbs of olive oil over medium heat. Portion out a few teaspoons of the basil pesto and rub it all over the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Gently place the chicken into the hot oil and cook for about 3-4 minutes, flip the chicken and cook until done, about 4 minutes depending on thickness. You may need to cook the chicken in batches depending on the size of your skillet. Keep the cooked chicken warm on a plate and bring the oil back up to heat before cooking the next batch. Once all of the chicken is cooked, set aside and cover.

Discard the oil and wipe out the pan OR use a raised griddle pan and warm over medium heat. Brush each side of the sliced bread with a little oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the slices face down into the pan and grill until browned and crusty, flip and toast the other side.

Set oven broiler. In a 9X13 pan place the slices of toasted bread and layer with a piece of grilled chicken and a thick slice of fresh mozzarella. Broil for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted and very slightly browned. Remove from the oven.

On a plate, place a portion of the bread/chicken/cheese combo, top with a heaping spoonful of fresh bruschetta and a little bit of basil pesto. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Serve warm.

 

Chicken Florentine

chicken florentine

Chicken Florentine is an easy and fairly quick meal to pull together for your family or even a small dinner party. It’s mostly cooked on the stovetop which is great for those warm days where you don’t want something baking in the oven for a long time. Meals that are prepared “florentine” style are served on or with a bed of spinach. If you aren’t a huge fan of spinach you can either use less in this recipe or even try it with your own favorite wilted greens.

This recipe is from an excellent cookbook entitled, The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook 10th Anniversary Edition: Every Recipe and Every Review From All Ten Seasons . It’s filled with really delicious recipes and step-by-step instructions for every meal! I highly recommend adding this one to your collection, especially if you feel that you need a little more guidance and help in the kitchen.

This meal was so a big hit in my house so it’s a keeper! The chicken was very moist and well seasoned and I loved all of the melted cheese throughout. I served it alongside roasted potatoes which was the perfect accompaniment, you can’t go wrong with potatoes! When making this dish, be sure to drain the spinach as indicated to avoid a very wet, soggy mess and be sure to take the time to reduce down the sauce. Don’t sweat it if the sauce takes a little longer than 10 minutes to thicken and come together, not all stoves are created equal so give yours the time it needs. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 12 oz baby spinach
  • 4 (6 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1 /4 cups water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

Adjust oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat broiler.

Heat 1 tbs of vegetable oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a colander that is set over a bowl and press the spinach with a spoon to release the excess liquid. Discard liquid.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Wipe out the pan and heat remaining 1 tbs of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook the chicken on both sides until golden, about 4-6 minutes. Add shallot and garlic to skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the stock, water and cream and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent with aluminum foil. Continue to simmer the sauce until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Off of the heat, stir in 4 tbs of Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Cut the chicken crosswise into 1/2″ thick slices and arrange on a broiler safe platter. Scatter the drained spinach over the chicken and then cover in the sauce. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and broil until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Serve.

Guinness Beef Stew

gus bf stew

There is nothing better on a cold winter (or spring!!) day than a hot, hearty bowl of stew and this version is OUT OF THIS WORLD! This stew has such a rich, well-developed flavor that I promise you, once you try this version you might never make it your old way again! I thought that red wine made my stew perfection but using the Guinness was even better, having it both cook with the stew and as a finishing touch at the end added two layers of flavor that was so delicious.

I came across this recipe in a new cookbook that I just bought which is put out by the Cook’s Country TV show entitled, The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook: 10th Anniversary Edition , and it’s an AMAZING cookbook. There are so many incredible recipes from soups to breakfasts to desserts. Everything is clearly explained and well thought out, it’s definitely worth adding to your cookbook collection!

The original recipe calls for the use of chicken broth but I much prefer the richness of stock instead, I think it adds a much better flavor to the finished stew. What is interesting about this recipe is that they eliminate the step of searing and browning the meat before cooking. By cooking the stew uncovered in the oven it allows the meat to take on a flavorful browning and as the liquid in the stew reduces down the overall flavor becomes even more rich and concentrated. Great time-saving technique!

Lastly, I love to cook stews in my large enameled cast iron Dutch oven, it’s a great size at 6 qts and it retains heat well and cooks so beautifully. You can spend hundreds on a Dutch oven pot, especially ones made by Le Creuset®, Staub®, etc., but Lodge® puts out a really excellent product that costs pennies compared to other brands. I picked up this Lodge® Dutch oven on Amazon for only $45!! That’s a crazy deal! If you’re interested in getting one for yourself, just click here to order. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 (3.5 – 4lb) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, pulled at seams and trimmed into 1.5″ pieces OR good quality pre-cut stew meat
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped finely
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I prefer Kitchen Basics brand)
  • 1 1/4 cups Guinness Draught
  • 1 1/2 tbs packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 lb carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2 tbs minced fresh parsley

Instructions

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325ºF. Season the beef with Kosher salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and 1/4 tsp Kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 8-10 minutes.

Add tomato paste and garlic and cook until rust-colored and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock, 3/4 cup of Guinness, sugar and thyme, scrape up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in beef and return to a simmer. Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered, for 90 minutes. Stir halfway through cooking.

Stir in the potatoes and carrots and continue cooking until the beef and vegetables are tender, about an hour. Stir halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of Guinness and parsley. Adjust seasonings and serve hot.

**Tip – This stew goes really well with a warm loaf of my delicious Beer Bread .**

 

Classic Marinara Sauce

Marinara Saucen

I’ve been making homemade sauce for twenty years now and I generally stick to what I know and don’t really follow any recipes however, when I came across this recipe for Classic Marinara Sauce in one of my new cookbooks I had to give it a try. The original recipe is from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook  by America’s Test Kitchen which is an excellent cookbook if you’re looking for heart healthy cooking ideas plus some new and interesting ways to prepare your vegetables, pastas and meats.

What I really liked about this recipe was the way they had you concentrate down the tomatoes by cooking them until they were brown and sticking to the pan. This step, combined with the red wine, allowed the sauce to develop a really nice, rich, complex flavor that was simply perfect! I used a Merlot in this recipe but feel free to use whatever red wine that you have on hand, any wine is better than no wine! Because the sauce is somewhat thick and chunky adding a little of the pasta water to the finished meal really helped to give it the perfect consistency. It made just the right amount of sauce for one and half pounds of pasta however, if you like a more heavily sauced pasta, I’d stick with a pound. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 (28 oz) cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp minced fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 tbs chopped fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • pinch of granulated sugar

Instructions

Drain the tomatoes in a fine-mesh strainer that is set over a large bowl. Using hands, open the tomatoes and remove the fibrous core, discard. Let the tomatoes drain for about 5 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup of the tomatoes separately. Reserve 2 1/2 cups of the drained tomato juice, discard the rest.

Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a 12″ skillet over medium, heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining drained tomatoes (keep the 3/4 cup of tomatoes set aside) and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has been evaporated and the tomatoes begin to brown and stick to the pan, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Stir in the red wine and cook until thick and syrupy, about 1 minute. Stir in the reserved tomato juice, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the reserved uncooked tomatoes to the sauce and transfer to a food processor (or use a handheld immersion blender) and pulse 8-9 times or until slightly chunky. Return the sauce to the skillet and add in the basil, remaining 1 tbs of olive oil, salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

When tossing with the pasta, add some of the pasta cooking water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce.