Beef Stew with Dumplings & Ice Cream Floats

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I made beef stew with dumplings for dinner saturday night and ice cream floats for dessert.  It was an all around hit with the family and one of my tried and true dishes.

I am cooking all my well-worn recipes this week as my sister is here visiting us from California.  We have been testing some new recipes that I will share here on the blog once they are perfected.

The boys are on cloud nine as Aunt Sue is there favorite…she is not afraid to take them up on all dares, bets and shenanigans.  They love her and so do I.  It is wonderful to have such a carefree, fun-loving sister and her visits are some of the highlights of our year.

So, back to dinner.  Easy beef stew with dumplings is as follows: 

1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 1/4 cups diced celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms

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 1 1/2 pounds beef round cubes.  I rinse and pat dry and then take each big piece and cut it into smaller pieces.  

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The beef cooks faster and it is easier to eat in more bite size pieces.

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Heat some olive oil and a Tbsp. of butter in a stockpot on medium heat.  Add in the chopped vegetables and cook until softened, then remove the vegetables from the pot to a plate and set aside.

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Add some more oil to the stockpot and drop in about 1/3 of the beef cubes.  Brown them well and add salt, pepper & garlic powder.  When browned to your liking remove the beef to a plate and drop the next third of beef cubes into the pot.  Add more olive oil if needed and salt, pepper & garlic powder.  Repeat for the final third of the beef cubes.  I brown my beef in small batches because if I were to put it all in the stockpot at once, the moisture that comes out of the beef would braise it and it would not brown properly.  It is best to brown meat in small batches.

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When the final batch of beef is browned add all the beef back into the pot.  Turn the heat up to medium high and add the following:

2 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sriracha chili sauce (optional)
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
4 cups of low sodium beef broth
1/2 cup red wine (I had that much left over in a bottle so I threw it into the stew)
2 cups boiling water

Bring the pot to a rolling simmer and cover.  I let this go for about 15 minutes and then I come back and add in my cooked vegetables.  Stir to combine the vegetables with the beef and broth.

Note: It may seem like I have too much liquid in the pot but remember, the dumplings will absorb liquid as they cook and the stew will thicken as the dumplings are basically flour and milk.  If you would rather use only 3 cups of beef broth to start and then add an additional cup later as the dumplings are cooking then please go ahead and do that.  Some people like stew to be very thick and others like them thinner.  It is up to your personal preferences.

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Bring the stockpot back to a simmer and let the beef & vegetables cook (covered) at a rolling simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes.  Taste test your beef to make sure it is tender and cooked through.  While the stew is cooking I prepare my dumpling mix.  I use Jiffy Baking Mix as I like it better than any of the other brands out there but you should use whatever you like best.

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The dumpling recipe calls for 2 cups of baking mix and 2/3 cup milk.  Combine ingredients until blended and then spoon the dough into the simmering beef stew.  Note: the dough is quite sticky, I use a fork to scoop it out and drop into the pot of rapidly simmering stew.

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 Cover the entire top of the stew with dumplings.

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They sink a little bit and it looks messy but believe me when I say these little babies are light, fluffy and delicious when they are finished.

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After I drop in all the dumpling dough, I cover the pot tightly, reduce the heat a little bit so the simmer is medium – not rapid, and let the dumplings cook for about 12 to 15 minutes.  When the dumplings are finished they are puffy and dry on top.  You don’t need to turn them over in the broth for them to cook properly.  Remove the pot from the heat, ladle stew and dumplings into bowls and enjoy!

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After dinner it was time for old-fashioned ice cream floats!  YUM!!  I started with the ingredients you see below.  Vanilla ice cream, vanilla cola, whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles. 

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I have some lovely old ice cream float glasses that I found at a local antique market.  They were not expensive and I am sure you could find some at your local second-hand or antique store.  They are easy to find and are a fraction of the cost of new ones from places like Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn.

Into each glass I add two large scoops of vanilla ice cream.

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Next I slowly pour in the cola.  Be careful as the cola fizz comes up the glass quickly and it can overflow the sides.

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Top with whipped cream and some rainbow sprinkles.  Add a long-handled spoon and serve to waiting children.

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Doesn’t this look delicious.

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A happy child = a happy mom!

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 As the weather turns colder and the days get shorter, comfort foods like beef & dumplings are just the thing to carry us through to the frantic days of the holiday season.

Thanksgiving is only 25 days away.  🙂


Weeknight Steak, Peppers & Onions

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I make a very easy & tasty steak, peppers & onions. My kids love it and I make it a couple of times a month for them.  I have to admit that I am not one for leftovers and rarely does it happen that there is any food left after the meal but this is one dish that is just as good the next day with a hot, crusty loaf of bread.

So, start with fresh peppers and an onion.  I prefer red onions but yellow or sweet Vidalia would be just as tasty.

peppers & onions

 I slice up the peppers into even sized strips and the onion into rings. 

slice up the vegetables

I use sirloin tips from the grocery store.  The butcher in town can be a little pricey and I have had good luck with this cut from my regular grocery store so it’s what I stick with for this recipe.  Rinse your steak, set aside and pat it nice and dry with some paper towels.  Season with salt, pepper, garlic and a little olive oil rubbed all over.  

The marbling in this steak is what gives it great flavor and it melts away during cooking to leave the steak tender and juicy in each bite.
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Into a hot cast iron skillet, with a little olive oil, I slide in the vegetables on medium high heat.  Season with salt & pepper and stir so the vege’s do not burn but soften with just a little bite left to them.  I prefer them this way but if you like them softer then of course cook them longer and to your liking.  

One thing I have learned from cooking shows and personal experience is to taste as you go along.  If you aren’t sure how well cooked the vege’s are then pull one out and taste it.  Watch your time as well.  How long have the veg been in the pan?  10 minutes….then you know that next time you make this recipe you have about 10 minutes once the peppers & onions hit the pan to prep your steak, green salad, or side dish.  (or perhaps peruse Pinterest or the latest romance novel online. 🙂  just saying)

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 Reminder, stir your vege’s so they don’t scorch.

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Once the vege’s are finished remove them to a plate and set aside.  I cover mine to keep them warm.

Add a touch of olive oil to the skillet and then drop in the steak.  Not all of it at once, if you overfill the pan with steak the juice released will end up stewing your meat instead of searing it.  

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If you have pre-seasoned your steak then you are good to go.  Let it cook on both side to the wellness you and your family like.  We like steak to be medium well.  I can tell the doneness by pressing on the top of the steak with my tongs.  The amount of resistance tells me how well done the steak is.  It takes some practice and again it comes down to timing.  For these strips of steak and at medium high heat I cook each piece a total of about 15 minutes.  They are pretty thick overall so it may seem like a long time but it takes a bit to get those centers to the right amount of doneness for my family.

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Once finished I remove the steak to a plate and go on with the remaining pieces.  Set aside your finished steak for 5-10 minutes to let the juices settle then carve away.  

I plate up dinner for my brood with a side of fresh cherry tomatoes (from my garden when in season) and some fresh parsley, roughly chopped/torn.  

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This meal feeds five of us with no leftovers but if we have any of the boys friends over then I make double the recipe.  Growing boys eat a lot!  My oldest is growing taller everyday and his appetite seems to be growing in proportion.  

Bon Appetit! 


Sunday Night Chicken

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There is nothing better than a roasted chicken dinner on a Sunday night with my family.  I have been making this chicken for so long I could make it in my sleep.  Easy, delicious and comforting….some of my favorite things.

This week has been super busy and I am going out of town on business for 3 days so I have zero time for fancy or intricate dinners tonight.  Boys are playing in their rooms, hubby is hunkered down somewhere on the property doing hubby type things and I am packing/doing laundry/prepping the kids lunches/feeding pets/writing instructions to be posted on the fridge/etc… you get the picture.

Here is my easy roasted chicken with stuffing and a green salad on the side (which I forgot to photograph 🙁 )

Start with a good quality bird, rinse well, pat dry, place in roasting pan.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Nekkid Chicken in pan

I drizzle vegetable oil, or olive oil, on the chicken, rub it all around and then liberally sprinkle with garlic powder and seasoned salt & pepper.  Use whatever seasonings you like.

spices

The chicken is covered with seasoning, the oven is hot, and in she goes.

seasoned chicken 
I roast my chicken until the timer in the bird pops up (about 1 – 1.5 hours) but in case your bird does not have a timer make sure the internal temperature of your bird is 165 degrees and the juices are running clear.  The last thing you want to serve your family is an undercooked chicken.  Your cooking time will also depend on the size of the chicken.  I use perdue oven stuffer roasters.

While the chicken is roasting I prep the vegetables for the stuffing.  I chopped up onion, celery and carrots.  I was making about a 1/2 bag of stuffing so I only chopped about 3/4 cup of each vegetable.  Put your diced vegetables, with a tablespoon of olive oil, into a hot pan (medium heat).  Stir to keep the vegetables moving so they don’t burn.  You want them to soften and turn opaque.

carrott, celery, onion

Tonight I used the onion/sage flavored stuffing.  I most often use plain but this needed to be used up.  Basically once your vegetables are soft you want to follow the directions on the bag of stuffing. Heat water and butter to boiling, add in the measured amount of dried stuffing cubes, take off the heat, stir.  Just remember to add in the veg. that you have cooked.  They add a wonderful layer of flavor. 

1/2 bag of stuffing 

When the chicken is finished you will end up with a crispy skin, juicy interior and heavenly taste.  The kitchen smells amazing and I think I just equate fall & winter Sundays with the smell of roasting chicken. Yum!

roasted chicken

Remove the chicken from the roasting pan to a carving board and let it rest for about 10 minutes while you prep your plates and utensils, or have the kids come and set the table. 🙂  Carve up your bird and plate with the stuffing, add a side salad or perhaps some green peas and you have a delicious & easy sunday night dinner.

finished plate 

I hope everyone has a great week.  Here’s to Sunday dinners together and football in the afternoon (GO BRONCOS!).


Plum Tart

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I was scrolling through my old issues of Everyday Food on my iPad last night and came across a recipe for a plum tart baked up in a cast iron pan.  I had about 6-7 large plums sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be eaten and this recipe looked so easy…..I decided to get off my butt and into the kitchen to test it out.  It was delicious and I encourage you to give this one a try.  It is a one pot, (or in this case pan), dessert that my family devoured. So yummy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Alas, this tart was eaten up so quickly that I did not capture a photograph of my finished product.  The boys and hubby descended on the kitchen and I was lucky to have a small bite for myself. 🙂  However, I will be making this again over the weekend, perhaps with a different stone fruit, and I will get the pictures in a post.

Here is a photo of the tarte, still in the cast iron pan.  To be honest it just doesn’t last long enough for me to turn it out.  It tastes absolutely divine and is gone in no time.

rustic plum tarte

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend.  Enjoy the last days of summer!

Plum Tarte Tatin
Serves 8
scrumptious and easy dessert
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
42 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
42 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Ingredients
  1. All-purpose flour, for work surface
  2. 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  3. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  5. 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  6. 2 pounds ripe black plums (7-9 depending on size), halved and pitted
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry into an 18-inch square. Trim into a 13-inch circle and cut a small X in center to vent. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze 20 minutes. (Please not that I did not freeze my pastry for the required 20 minutes, more like 10 minutes and my tart came out beautifully)
  2. 2. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with sugar and salt; place plums, cut side down, in a single layer.
  3. 3. Return to heat, bring to a rapid simmer, and cook, undisturbed, 7 minutes. Remove from heat and top with pastry. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and juices are thickened, about 35 minutes.
  4. 4. Let cool on a wire rack, 10 minutes, then invert onto a platter. Serve warm.
Notes
  1. I always have a box of ready-made puff pastry in the freezer. It is perfect for topping chicken pot pies, deserts of all kinds and just plain handy to have on hand.
Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine
Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine
Two Traveling Sisters http://twotravelingsisters.com/blog/