Archives for February 2013

Cowboy Beef Stew

beef-stew-served-photoMy sister-in-law gave me a great Cowboy Dutch Oven for Christmas a few years back.  Because our pantry was, um, well… overstuffed and unorganized, I had forgotten all about it and hadn’t used it since I first got it.  A few weeks back we hauled everything out of the pantry, threw a lot of stuff away, gave away even more.  We decided what we really use vs. what was just taking up space.  Now we have a nicely organized and clean pantry, but the big benefit was rediscovering several fun toys I had forgotten about.  One, of course, that tops the list is my dutch oven.  If it wasn’t 15 degrees outside, I might be cooking this stew outside over wood and having real cowboy beef stew, but my gas range will have to do.

Cowboy Beef Stew in the Dutch Oven

Step 1. Dredge the beef chunks in kosher salt, pepper, granulated onion powder, and granulated garlic powder.  My favorite way to do this is to place the meat and spice in a medium glass bowl and place a smaller bowl over the top and shake.

beef-raw    spicing-beef-pre-shake    shaking-beef-with-spice    spiced-beef2

Step 2. Add 1/4 cup or so of flour on top of the meat, place the bowl back on top and shake again.

flour-beef-1    coating-beef   fully-dredged-beef

Step 3. In a dutch oven or other deep pan melt 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup nice olive oil on medium heat

Step 4. Place the dredged meat in the hot oil – each piece with some room to breathe – 2 small batches works better than one crowded batch. Watch the heat so it doesn’t get too hot.  The pan will be deglazed so we want nice brown bits not burned bits on the dutch oven bottom. Once the meat is fully cooked, room carefully and place it to the side.

dredging-cooking-beef    dredged-cooked-beef-photo

Step 5. With the hot butter and olive oil in the pan add 1 1/2 – 2  cups nice red wine or cooking burgundy. Once the wine gets hot deglaze the pan stirring constantly for several minutes to incorporate all the yumminess together.  Bring to boil and then return to medium heat.


Step 6. Smash about 8 cloves of garlic with a garlic smasher or, like I do, a meat tenderizer. Add to mixture.

smashed garlic

Step 7. Add the cooked, dredged beef and 2 1/2 cups beef stock and spices; 1 teaspoon each granulated garlic, onion, and pepper.  1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, ground thyme, and mustard powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.  Bring to boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes until mixture.


Step 8. Mix 6 tablespoons flour with six tablespoons flour in a ball jar and shake.  Once mixture has thickened a bit, cover and cook over low for 60 minutes.


Step 9. During the 60 minute thickening process, cut up a couple of carrots into small pieces, dice about a cup of celery from very center of a celery bunch, and cut up some baby potatoes into quarters so yo have about three cups cut potatoes.

Step 10. Lightly dredge the potatoes in some flour using the same 2 bowl technique as the meat. Deep fry these dredge potatoes in a large skillet.  If you are one of those “make everything so healthy it lacks flavor” people you can simply add the potatoes before frying, but you are missing out…. After frying potatoes, set aside to drain.

potatoes-frying    veggies and potatoes


Step 11. Add Potatoes, Celery and Carrots.  Cook for 1 more hour.


Serve with Buttermilk Biscuits and enjoy.


PLUS…. Marley made her first rum cake for us to have for dessert.  WOW! She is good!!!


Happy Valentine’s Day Fondue

fondue-photo2Well, Biruk has back-to-back soccer games on Valentine’s Day. (Who planned that???) So I planned a (secret) Valentine’s Day for those I love.  Fondue.  I love Fondue so I thought fondue for my loves. Plus my niece Marika dropped by…extra fun! Cheese fondue for dinner and Chocolate fondue for dessert.

Fondue is rather simple but it makes a really fun meal and it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day for my Valentine if it wasn’t chocolate.

Price Chopper had the biggest, most beautiful red strawberries.  I also got tons of fruit (green apples, red apples, cantelope, pineapple, pear, bananas and the massive strawberries), veggies (blanched asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, raw carrots, raw red peppers) plus nicely cubed fresh bread from the bakery (white french loaf and whole wheat peasant bread), and Dunkin Donuts and Angel Food Cake to cut up and dip.


cheese-fondueCheese Sauce: – It isn’t fondue unless it is Gruyere and Swiss Cheese. Start your cheese sauce by melting a few tablespoons butter, and a a couple tablespoons flour like you are making a rue but not as thick.  Stir in 1/2 pound Gruyere, 1/2 pound swiss, a teaspoon mustard powder, a teaspoon granulated garlic, and one of granulated onion powder. Melting your cheese sauce slowly is the key to nice smooth sauce.  As you cheese gets nice and melty, add milk or light cream until it is the right consistency.

Cut up veggies, green apples and bread cubes.

Place the cheese sauce in a fondue pot or double boiler with some warm water under it.  You want to keep the sauce warm BUT NOT HOT while you are eating and dipping.

Viola! Dinner.

chocolate-fondueChocolate Sauce:

Stir one cup of whipping cream over low or medium heat.  Do not boil your cream.  Just get it warm and stir in chocolate.  If you use really nice unsweetened or bitter chocolate stir in a little sugar too.  As everything starts to melt add a little vanilla (sorry Marley – a lot of vanilla) and mix well until it is nice and creamy.

Put all kind of cut up fruit and cake on the table and your chocolate sauce in the fondue pan or double boiler.

Viola! Dessert!


Happy Valentine’s Day!



Yummy Winter Goulash

On a cold winter day when I am working from home -yes it is Sunday and I am working, but the view is gorgeous outside, the house is warm and I am craving something yummy and warm for dinner.  I have never made Goulash before and thought I would give it a try.  Since I have never made this I started with a recipe and Tyler Florence has a good beef goulash recipie I will “start with”:,1946,FOOD_9936_22294_RECIPE-PRINT-FULL-PAGE-FORMATTER,00.html

Yummy Winter Goulash

Step 1. Fry up 4 pieces of bacon, drain and set aside –  and cook up 1.5 pounds of nice ground beef, drain fat.

Step 2. When the beef is fully-cooked, reduce heat to low, sprinkle 3 Tablespoons flour over the beef and stir until fully mixed in.  Then add:

  • 1 teaspoon sea saltmeat-peppers-goulash-photo
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 3 Tablespoons Hot Hungarian Paprika

Mix these spices in nicely then add:

  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 1 small red pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

Mix well, still over low heat, then add:

  • 2 can Diced Tomatoes (about 20 oz total)stewing-goulash-photo2
  • 2 cups beef broth, low sodium

Mix well.  Bring mixture to light boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours uncovered.  If your mixture has too much liquid make your pasta in the next step VERY al dente and it will absorb any excess liquid.  If you mixture is the right consistency, make sure to fully cook pasta in next step.

Sgoulash-ready-to-servetep 3. When you are about 40 minutes from serving, cook up your pasta.  I have open beef broth so I am going to cook the pasta in it.  I don’t like pasta mushy so I will cook my pasta al dente even a minute or two less than directions and then let them soak a while in the mixture to take on the yummy flavor.

Super Bowl Super Fried Chicken Wings with a Mild and Super Hot Sauce

Because as a Steelers fan it was very hard for me to get excited about a Super Bowl featuring the archrival Baltimore Ravens, I was focused on food for the Super Bowl party rather than the participants in the game.  Steelers will be there next year.  (ah… the faith of a fan!)

Super Bowl Super Fried Chicken Wings – Mild (whimpy) and Really Hot!

wings to serveBiruk and I were watching a cooking show a few days before the Super Bowl and saw a great chicken wing brine that we decided to use as the foundation of our Super Bowl Super Wings.  Lisa bought “super wings”  instead of the standard type chicken wings so… they were Super Wings for the Super Bowl. And I fgureg for the Super Bowl, they really should be fried not baked, so…


Heat up 6 or 7 cups water so that it will absorb as much salt as possible.  At least two or three cups of salt should dissolve into your brine base.  Remove from heat and stir in yummy flavor: a couple glugs of worcheshire sauce, a glug or two of Frank’s Hot Sauce, a teaspoon of pepper, a tablespoon of ground cayenne, a couple pinches of each granualted onion and granulated garlic.  Stir well to fully incorporate spices into brine.

Add ice to brine to cool.  Several cups worth of ice should do it.  You don’t want to cook the chicken in the brine so it needs to be cooled to rpoom temperature.

Once the brine is room temperature, stir again incorporating as much settled flavorings as possible, add wings and mix.  Cover and set in fridge or outside for at least 12 hours.  Objects in brine will not freeze because of the salt content in the brine mix.

brine-2 brining chicken wingsbrine



for Mild or Whimpy:

Melt one stick butter in pan, then add and mix well:

  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Granulate Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (for mild, for my hot sauce I use 3 Tablespoons)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (for the hot sauce I use 3 Tablespoons)
  • 1 Jar or Frank’s Hot Sauce (it is easy to make but the family likes Frank’s)

For the Really Hot and Super Delicious wing sauce:

Melt one stick butter in pan, then add and mix well:

  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Granulate Garlic Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Cayenne Pepper – you can get 90K IHU where good spices are sold. Basic Foods for me!
  • 3 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Jar or Frank’s Hot Sauce (it is easy to make but the family likes Frank’s)

Bring mixture(s) to a boil, then reduce heat.  Keep on low heat, stirring often for about 30 minutes.  I make mine the night before and let the flavors marry overnight.  If you do this make to keep it in the fridge over night and you will have to heat it a little before coating the wings.

Mild Chicken Wing SauceSuper Hot chicken wing sauce

Chicken Wings:

Normally I would have baked them, but for the Super Bowl I decided to give frying a try. Dump brine water from chicken and rinse well.  DON’T FORGET TO RINSE OFF BRINE!!!

frying chickenHeat a deep pan full of nice fryer oil – not olive oil.  Heat up hot.  In small batches (4 of the jumbo wings or 6 -8 normal wings) fry wings for about 10-12 minutes until the look nicely golden brown.  Drain and let cool for about 2 minutes.





chicken-wings-shaking-with sauce-photoPlace slightly cooled wings in a large platic container with a laddle full of wing sauce. Shake.  Place in serving dish in a 250 degree oven until serving or traveling.





wings to serveWe were the road team this year so we brought our wings to our friends house for a really great party.  The party was great.  I love football, I mean I really love football, but I didn’t want the Ravens to win because, well because they are the Ravens.  I also didn’t want the 49ers to win because then the 49ers would have the same record number of Super Bowl wins as my Steelers.  So I was rooting for great food, great friends, and the very remote possibility that neither team would win this years Super Bowl.



Mid-Winter Strawberry Jam

strawberry jam -photoOn of my favorite parts of late Spring – early Summer is Strawberry season.  Fresh, locally grown strawberries are a delicacy second to none.  This past strawberry season I made homemade strawberry jam for the first time.  Not only was it my first time ever making strawberry jam, but my first time making any kind of jam and my first time canning anything.  I had been really wanting to take a class in canning but two years had gone by and I had found now class, so I watched a few youtube videos on in and felt ready to go.

I cut about 10 quarts of strawberries and diligently followed my recipe – not something I tend to do well… when all the jars later “popped” I learned my first experience had been a canning success. The jam was out of this world.  So much better than store bought jam.  Lisa teased me that we would have strawberry jam forever.

Flash forward to October.  We are out of strawberry jam.  My sister-in-law suggested that strawberry-peach jam was really the way to go.  Strawberries and peaches are both way out of season.  So I decided to try making jam with frozen fruit.  First try was so bad it couldn’t be eaten.  Second try was better, but I mixed frozen fruit with out-of-season fresh peaches and I learned a valuable lesson.  Frozen fruit is not for jam! So I decided I would have to wait until stawberry season to make more.

Then I walk into Price Chopper the other day and they have have a HUGE display of fresh, US grown (Florida) Strawberries for $3.99/pound.  Off season strawberries had always come from far away and while they looked like strawberries they have never tasted like them.  Well these strawberries were beautiful and after a sample pound were found quite delicious, I decided to try mid-winter jam. Success! Yeah.  We have strawberry jam!

Mid-Winter Strawberry Jam

Yield: 10 1/2 12 oz jars

I bought 8 lbs of strawberries, but two go eaten before I got started, so…

  • 6 pounds strawberries, washed and cut up nicely
  • 12 cups white sugar
  • 2 boxes premium fruit pectin – I always use Sure-Jell
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Step 1. Place all the cut up strawberries into a large stock pan and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently.  Add the Sure Jell and butter. The little bit of butter keeps your jam from being too frothy.  Doesn’t change the taste but keeps out most of the air bubbles in the finished jam.

jam-pan-photoStep 2. While this is cooking I sterilize my ball jars and the screw top piece.  Don’t boil the flat part of the lid or you might not get a good seal when you can.  I have a giant stock pan I use and a round cooling rack that fits nicely in the bottom.  This allows me to sterilize the jars and keeps them off the bottom of the pan.

Step 3. Measure out the 12 cups of white sugar.  Don’t skimp or your jam won’t set right.  Too much sugar and your jam will taste like the candy part of candied apples.

Step 4. When your strawberry fruit mixture is at a ROLLING BOIL – it must be bubbling even while you are stirring the mixture – keep stirring for 2-3 minutes and then add in the sugar.  Again, keep stirring to get all the sugar nicely incorporated with the fruit and continue to stir until it returns to a rolling boil. Keep stirring for an additional 2-3 minutes.  There is chemistry here and this boiling time is critical to the success of the jam!

Step 5. Turn heat off under jam. Remove jars and lids from sterilization bath.  Place funnel (I have a ball jar funnel) over lid of sterile jar and scoop jam in until it is about 1 cm from the top of the jar.  Wipe the rim with a hot, wet paper towel, place the flat lid on, then the screw lid and close tightly.  Turn upside down on a towel. Repeat until all your jars are filled. Make sure all jars get turned upside down for at least one minute.

Step 6. Return filled jars, right-side up, to the boiling water in your giant stock pan.  Make sure jars are not directly on the bottom of the pan. Water should cover the entire jar by about 1 inch. Allow to stay in bath for 10 minutes.  Remove to counter.

Step 7. Allow to cool slowly to room temperature.  Strawberry jam usually sets overnight but it can take a couple of days to fully set.

strawberry jam photo2Step 8. Eat on everything.  Eat with toast and butter.  Peanut butter and Jelly.  Or, one of my favorites; cracker, cheese, jalepeno pepper, dab of jam!

Soon it will be strawberry season, but until then I have some really nice strawberry jam to get me through the rest of winter.


Ethiopian Mustard

I have to start this blog with a couple of confessions.

mustard2-photo1. Ethiopian Mustard doesn’t exist.  I made it up.  I created it using the spices I think Ethiopians would use if they made a mustard type spread or dipping sauce.  Berbere makes everything taste great.

2. I spent the first 10 years of my life (maybe a few more) thinking mustard was the grossest substance on Earth.  Lunch was always mustard and bologna on bread so white it made Wonder Bread look whole-grain for Camp Chingachgook hikes up Buck Mountain.  I didn’t like white bread, bologna, or mustard but standing on top of Buck Mountain was so great, I diligently scraped as much of the mustard off as I could, gave the bologna to a friend and ate what was left of the white bread.

Now I love Mustard.  I also love Hot Food.  I had never made mustard before and I was going to start with a very simple version as my first undertaking, but I lacked 1/2 of the mustard powder I needed and had to rethink things.  I used Alton Brown’s “Best Mustard Ever” recipie as a starting point.  The Result…

Ethiopian Mustard – Spicy!

Great for sandwiches, dipping pretzels, anywhere you might use mustard and then some.


Step 1. Mix Dry Spices together and set aside:

  • 1/8 cup mustard powder
  • 1/8 cup berbere spice (this is the Ethiopian spice that is central to their cooking)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon spanish hot paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

Step 2. Mix Liquids together in a seperate bowl and set aside:

  • 1/2 cup pickle juice
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water

Step 3. Grind up 1/4 cup of mustard seeds and mix with dry spices.

mustard-photoStep 4. Mix all ingredients and whisk for at least 60 seconds. It will be watery.

Step 5. Microwave for 60 seconds.

Step 6. Use an immersion blender and blend for 3 minutes until it thickens.

Allow to cool.  Can/Jar.  Enjoy. It is spicy and yummy.