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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 upcoming 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! 😉

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 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 voilà! 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

Shake Your Salt-n-Pepper Shakers

No, really, I mean that literally, not as a euphemism. 🙂 I was at a gun show this past weekend with my brother, who was a vendor, and since I was there just for fun, I brought along a craft project to keep me occupied. It was a simple one, just on Day 2 of the Show, but it was fun, and I enjoyed it! That is really all you can ask of any project, though, right? Fun and enjoyable and keeping you occupied/entertained – all the hallmarks of a successful endeavor!

So I ran to Walmart (shhh, don’t tell!) and I picked up a few glass items, since I had brought my handy-dandy Enamel paints and paintbrushes with me. Two of the items I picked up were sets of salt and pepper shakers. So I decided to paint those.

Now the dilemma, what to paint on salt and pepper shakers? I was at a gun show, but having a Glock 9mm handgun pepper and a Remington 870 shotgun salt just seems a little much, at least when it’s not a custom request. 🙂 So I kept looking around and trying to find inspiration, then realized there were American flags everywhere. So I thought, why not? That is patriotic, something you can use for holidays (4th of July, Labor Day) for special occasions, and also something that is just fine and dandy for year-round as well. Right?

So what do you think? And yes, I painted 13 stripes and 50 stars on, and counted each and every one, too! 😉

Patriotic Salt 'n Pepper

Now after that was done, and I did have quite a few people come looking at what I was doing (probably partly wondering why a female vendor was sitting on her duff, haha), I still had about 2 hours before the show closed, and I did have that second set of shakers handy… So like any good sister, I made my brother give me a theme to paint. He said the beach, like a good brother, and refused to help anymore than that… which is quite alright as I am good at both using google, and enlisting his aid on a continual basis until he helps (aka nagging) when ignored. Yay.

No but seriously, he was a great help recommending the beach, and google and I did the rest. Okay, fine, I did the rest, and google helped me figure out what the rest should be. I think that is more accurate now. Happy? Good. Me too.

So I decided to do a land-and-sea theme, since it’s always nice to have variety in your set when the items contained will be different. There is white pepper, after all!

So the one I did a beach theme, see below.

Palm Tree

Seashell

Sand Dollar

Starfish

Then the other I did a sea theme, see below.

Sailboat

Clownfish

Blue Marlin

Blue Tang

And as a set, here we go:

Set Together 1

Set Together 2

Set Together 3

Set Together 4

What do you think? Let me know, I am thinking of making a bunch of different themed sets, and then selling them eventually when I get my stuff set up for a business license. But I would love your feedback in the meantime, and pointing me where I should or shouldn’t go from here on out!

Craft you later,
Beth

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