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Belgian Beef Stew

Hello Cooking Friends,

It is getting to be Fall, which is my favorite time of the year. And that means that stews and soups can come out of hiding and take center stage, woohoo! So my first fall stew was accomplished with a bit of this and a bit of that, as per the usual for me!

belgian beef stew egg noodles beef bacon onion garlic stew soup fall food parsley lemon juice

Belgian Beef Stew.

My brother wanted steak one night, so he had bought some steaks. Having only used 2 of them, I was trying to figure out what to do with the other 2 when it hit me: STEW!!!!! I was researching Belgian recipes for an upcomingĀ Charlotte Beer Babes event, and found this Belgian Beef Stew recipe that sounded delicious-and-adaptable.

C’mon, you know I am almost physically incapable of following recipes all the way! šŸ˜‰

Anyways, to start I took 1 lb. applewood-smoked bacon, chopped it up into 1/4-inch pieces and added to a crock pot with 1/2 cup light margarine (hellooooo Country Crock!). I cooked that over high heat for about 5 minutes. As that was cooking, I chopped up 15 peeled pearl onions, and added them and another 1/4 cup light margarine to the pot, mixing them all together. Then I chopped up 1 clove garlic, fresh, and added that and another 1/4 cup of light margarine to the pot. Remember to stir every few minutes! At this point you should be at around 10-12 minutes for the bacon cooking, and it should start to smell deliciously bacony!

Next, chop up your 2 steaks (believe me this yields plenty of beef!), into about 1/2 inch cubes. Add that to the bacon mixture and stir to mix well. Cook for about 10 minutes (still on high setting in your crock pot).

Now this should be getting some liquid gathering at the bottom of the pot, so take about 1 ladle full and pour into a cup to make a slurry (no, not a slurPee). Add 1/8 cup flour, 1 tspn salt, and about 3 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper. Mix this all until completely combined, no flour chunks remaining. Add the slurry to the stew and mix well. Let cook about 5 minutes.

Next, pour in 1 12-oz bottle of a beer of your choice. Traditionally this should be a dark Belgian, however we had a Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout on hand that sounded delicious, so I used that instead. Mix this well into the stew, and it should be a dark color. Let stew for about 5 minutes. (Har har har!)

Meanwhile, chop up most of a 0.75 oz package of fresh parsley (produce section!), without the stems, until you basically can’t chop it any more by hand. Don’t process or blend this, as that will make it into a paste, but go ahead and use a chopper if you have one!

Add your parsley to the stew, and then grate 1 lemon (all of it) directly into the stew. Slice your lemon in half, de-seed it, then squeeze the juice into your stew. I know, I know, you think this is in the “WHY are you ruining a good stew?!?” but trust me – this makes it extra delicious!

Now you just need to let the stew sit for about 15 more minutes on high, then reduce heat to low and let sit 20-30 minutes more. This will fully incorporate the juices in the meats, as well as let the stew thicken.

When you’re about 10 minutes from serving, take 1 bag of Egg Noodles (like these) and cook with 1 tablespoon olive oil until tender. When drained and ready to serve, scoop some noodles into a dish (bowl or plate that has curved sides) and top with a few ladles of stew. Garnish with a sprig of reserved parsley if desired. Serve. Enjoy.

belgian beef stew egg noodles beef bacon onion garlic stew soup fall food parsley lemon juice

Observe, plated Belgian Beef Stew! Mmmm.

Craft You Later,
Beth

Quick, Simple, Fancy Appetizers

Hello Cooking Friends,

I don’t know about you, but I love quick and simple appetizers that everyone thinks took you forever to make, and are super complicated.

Baked Asparagus Citrus HabaƱero

Citrus HabaƱero Asparagus

I have two standbys that I used this weekend for a bring-appetizers-to-share event. I would like to share with you because I got so many “how did you make this?!?!” comments this weekend. I am going to share multiple variations for both just to be fair to all palates!

#1) ‘Fancy’ Asparagus

What you need: 1 bunch of asparagus, flavored olive oils, flavored balsamic vinegars, and various spices, as desired.

Preheat your oven to 350, and spray an 8×8 pan with cooking spray (I prefer aluminum ones to bake-and-take-and-toss when I’m going somewhere not at a house).

Keep the rubber bands on your asparagus and rinse the stems in cold water for a few seconds. Then, using a very sharp and long knife (i.e. not a paring knife), cut the bottom 1 inch off the asparagus stems. This is key to taste and keeping the rubber bands on is key to sanity. It also lets you cut your asparagus to mostly equal length quite simply!

So now we have our rinsed, prepped asparagus, remove the rubber bands and dump the stems into your pan (layers are perfectly fine). Over top of this you will drizzle and sprinkle your olive oils and spices. Bake for 12-18 minutes, until they’re to your desired tenderness (18) or crispness (12). I usually do about 15 minutes, to get it right in the middle!

A) Citrus-HabaƱero: pour about 3 tablespoons of Butter Olive Oil evenly over your asparagus. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons of Citrus HabaƱero Olive Oil evenly over top you asparagus. Bake.

B) Peppery Citrus: mix together 1 tablespoon orange juice and 1 teaspoon Lemon Pepper Olive Oil, and pour over top the asparagus. Using a peppermill or grinder, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of fresh ground pepper over top the asparagus. Bake.

C) Garlicky Mushroom & Fig: mix together 2 teaspoons each Garlic Mushroom Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic Vinegar, 1 teaspoon of dill weed, and 1 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Pour over asparagus evenly. Bake.

D) Butter & Bacon: sprinkle about 2 teaspoons worth of Bacon!Bacon! over top, evenly. Pour 2 tablespoons of Butter Olive Oil evenly over asparagus & bacon. Bake.

E) Garden Veggie: sprinkle about 2 teaspoons each worth of Garden Veggie and Dried Tomato & Garlic Pesto mixes evenly over asparagus. Pour 2 tablespoons of Butter Olive Oil, OR pour 1 tablespoon melted butter plus 1 teaspoon Sun-dried Tomato Parmesan & Garlic Olive Oil, evenly over asparagus & spices. Bake.

**Note, 2 tablespoons butter olive oil is equivalent to just under 1/4 cup melted (unsalted) butter.

#2) Rumaki

BBQ Barbeque Rumaki Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

BBQ Rumaki

What you need: toothpicks, 1 package bacon, 2 cans diced & drained water chestnuts, sauce as desired.

Preheat oven to 350, and either line a cookie sheet with foil or use an 11×7 pan – spray either one with cooking spray.

The basics of what you will do: cut your bacon strips into thirds, and then wrap 1 of these strips around 1 diced water chestnut. Stick a toothpick through starting where the wrap ends, and going through the water chestnut to the other side. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until bacon is to your taste (crisp or soft). This does 2 things for you: 1) this keeps the bacon from getting messy and going everywhere while baking, and 2) creates an instant ‘serving’ option for guests to enjoy these without getting more utensils dirty!

So here are some ways to flavor the rumaki!

A) BBQ Rumaki: Take a barbeque sauce of your choice, I used the Laurel Gray Crazy ‘Bout Butts BBQ Sauce, and pour about 1/4 cup into the bottom of your pan. Place your tooth-picked rumaki into the pan in rows, and then drizzle another 1/8 cup of the sauce over top of the rumaki. Bake.

B) Ginger-Soy Rumaki: Place your tooth-picked rumaki in the pan in rows. Meanwhile, mix together 1/8 cup low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Butter Olive Oil (or 2 tbspn melted butter), dash of cumin, and 2 teaspoons ground ginger. For the ginger, if you happen to have pickled ginger on hand, you could substitute either 1 teaspoon of the pickled liquid OR 2 teaspoons of blended pickled ginger (solids only) for the ground ginger. Mix this well. Pour over rumaki and bake.

C) Garden Veggie Rumaki: Place your tooth-picked rumaki in the pan in rows. Sprinkle Garden Veggie and 2 tablespoons Garlic Mushroom Olive Oil over the asparagus, evenly. Bake.

So I sincerely hope that you enjoyed these, and if you try them, please let me know which version you tried (even if it’s your own) and how you liked them!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Quick Scratch Mac-N-Cheese

Hey Cooking Friends!

For all of you out there that are either cooking for one or two people, and absolutely hate trying to scale down this delicious recipe or that, I have a recipe for you. It is literally 4 ingredients, and takes about 10 minutes. I promise you’ll really enjoy this one! Especially if you like cheese!

Quick & Easy Scratch Mac-N-Cheese! Mmmm!

So I was really in the mood for macaroni and cheese the other night, but I didn’t want it out of a box, and I didn’t want to make a huge thing and bake it – as that takes awhile. So I decided to try my hand at a combo concept of those two styles.

First, I boiled about 1/2 cup of raw elbow macaroni in about 2.5 cups of water (with a dash of salt), on medium-high. I cooked these until right between al dente and mushy, which is how I like my mac-n-cheese. This took about 8 minutes or so, and my visual cue is always that the pasta starts to turn the water a little cloudy. Once it’s done to your liking, turn off the burner, drain the pasta, and return the pasta in the pot onto the still-hot burner.

Immediately add about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Stir a bit around to keep the sizzle down. Add about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and stir until that melts fully. Now for the cheese. You can use whatever you have on hand, however I used the finely-shredded 4-cheese blend and added about 1/3 of a cup into the pasta, stirring constantly until fully melted. Once that was done, I added just under 1/3 of a cup again, and stirred until it became a nicely cheesy mound of pasta. Yum.

Now pour the pasta into a serving dish, add a pinch of cheese as a garnish on top (not mixed in), and voilĆ ! You have a quick and easy, and delicious, homemade macaroni and cheese dish! If you’re eating alone, this will be plenty. If you’re feeding more than that, just double, etc, accordingly.

If you need more than this to eat, you can take an unshucked ear of corn and microwave it for 4 minutes. Once done, peel the husk and strands off and enjoy that with your mac-n-cheese! I think next time, I’m going to make up a piece of bacon and add that to the mac-n-cheese, along with a dash or 2 of fresh ground pepper. Just to try some variety and add in some protein!

So that is it:

1/2 cup macaroni pasta, boiled to taste
2 tbspn heavy cream (can substitute milk, I just didn’t have any!)
1 tbspn unsalted butter
2/3 cup cheese of your choice, evenly divided (shredded does work best)
dash of fresh-ground pepper, if desired
1 slice of prepared bacon, if desired

1. Boil pasta to desired tenderness.
2. Add remaining ingredients, in order, and mix until well combined.
3. Serve and enjoy!

Servings, with quantities as listed above: 1

Let me know what you think of this quick and easy meal!

Craft You Later,
Beth

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