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!!!


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.

BBQ Spinach Meatloaf, Roasted Potatoes, and Brussel Sprouts

meatloaf-servedThis is my favorite meal.  I worked this meatloaf recipe so many different ways until I got it just the way I like it (and the family too!)  The secrets are a spinach rue in the meatloaf and homemade Ethiopian BBQ Sauce on top (or your favorite BBQ sauce). Soft and delicious and just a spicy hint for complexity of flavors – or as my family teases me for saying… layers of flavor. My goal is always complex tastes with layers of flavor and they have each been asked as I work my recipes through…can you make out the layers of flavor? Now they may just say yes because that is the only right answer.

BBQ Spinach Meatloaf and the Roasted Potatoes

Step 1. The Meatloaf and potatoes need to go into the over together and they each need to cook for 60 minutes at 350.  So I make them together….

  • 1 small onion, nicely dicedmeatloaf-rue3
  • A couple pinches of Kosher Salt and Pepper (this is the only salt in the meatloaf)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder


cut-potatoesStep 2. While the onions are cooking (low and slow) I wash and quarter a bag of Baby Yukon Potatoes. Mix a teaspoon of each Salt and Pepper, 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper, 1/8 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon each onion and garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon powdered rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder) Set to side. This is for the potatoes not the meatloaf.

meatloaf-rue-2Step 3. Back to Meatloaf prep. Once the onions are translucent, add 1/4 cup of flour and whisk it in.

Then add:

  • 1 cup milk or light cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Whisk constantly over low heat until it is thickened.



Then add:

  • 1 cup spinach, very finely chopped

meatloaf-rue-spinach meatloaf-rue-with-spinach

Once the spinach is incorporated, turn off the heat.

Step 4: To assemble the meatloaf, mix:meatloaf-mixture

  • 1 1/3 – 1 1/2 lbs Meat – Ground Beef (or better yet a mix of beef, pork, and veal)
  • 2 eggs
  • The spinach rue from above (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 Tablespoons BBQ Sauce

mixing-meatloafMix this all up well.  Really Well. Your hands are the best tool for the job, but a wooden spoon will work if you don’t want to use your (clean) hands.



Step 5: Cover a cookie tray with parchment paper. Dump the mix onto the paper.  Shape into a loaf (or whatever shape your heart desires) Set to side for a minute.

meatloaf-blob-mixed-preloaf-shaping meatloaf-loaf

Step 6: Potato Prep resumes…. Pour a few glugs of olive oil over your potatoes, add the spice mixture you made in Step 2 and cover with another bowl and shake these two like a bartender mixing a drink.

spicing-potatoes shaking-potatoes

Step 7. Reset the loaf shape to your meatloaf.

Step 8. Place both in the oven at 350. Both need to cook for 60 minutes.

meatloaf-covered-with-bbqStep 9. At 30 minutes cook time, remove both potatoes and meatloaf. Mix the potatoes. Cover or Drench the meatloaf with BBQ sauce. Place back in oven to finish cooking.



brussel-spouts-photoStep 10. Start the brussel sprouts.  I use a frozen bag, thawed and cooked in butter and garlic on low and slow.




Step 11. With about 5-10 minutes left give the potatoes another mix and add some French’s French Fried Onions to the top of the meatloaf as a garnish.


Step 12. Remove Meatloaf from oven to set for 10 minutes before serving.

meatloaf-servedSERVE your family.  They will love the meatloaf even if they don’t like spinach.

Cook On!





French Onion Soup and Roast Beef Sandwiches

As a foreign exchange student in France for my Junior Year of high school I learned one thing very quickly; If a food has “French” in it, it is either not French or we make it much different than the French.

French Fries… actually from Belgium / French Dressing… they call it American Sauce and use it on Fish not Salad / French Toast doesn’t have maple syrup as the French think Maple Syrup is gross.

french-onion-soup-serving-suggestion-photoOne exception may be French Onion Soup which we decided was the “key element” for dinner tonight and added the Roast Beef Sandwiches as a compliment to the soup.

Because the French traditionally get a baguette of lovely bread each day and the bread is stale by the next day, they keep the old bread.  It is called “Lost Bread” and many things can be done with it, including French Onion Soup.

My first French host mother insisted that real French Onion Soup is served with the onions strained out.  We love onions though, so this recipe combines both styles into one yummy!! soup.

French Onion Soup Recipe

french-onion-soup-onipons-cookingStep 1. Cut up 6 small-to-medium yellow onions.  Leave the pieces pretty big at this point.

Step 2. Melt 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil and 4 Tablespoons butter in a soup stock pan.  Add the onions, salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon thyme powder and 1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh crushed thyme. Cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes mixing and stirring frequently so they don’t burn.

french-onion-soup-onion-straining-photoStep 3. Remove the onions to a large strainer and let them strain over the stock pan to save all the oil, butter and onion juice. SAVE ONIONS to the side.



french-onion-soup-photoStep 4. De-glaze the pan with 1 1/2 cups cold cooking sherry (de-glazing is getting all the nice brown flavor chunks off the bottom of the pan and mixed in nicely, cold liquid works best to list the flavor off the pan bottom.)



Step 5. Add 8 cups beef stock (or veggie stock), 2 teaspoons onion powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder and bring to a boil.

Schopped-onions-phototep 6. Place about 1/2 the cooked onions in a food french-onion-finished-stock-photoprocessor and chop into small pieces. Stir back into soup stock and bring to boil.  Reduce to simmer until ready to serve.



stock-freezers-bag-photoStep 7. If you make your own broth, keep a bag of veggie scraps in the freezer, place the excess onions into your veggie scraps freezer bag.



french-onion-soup-serving-suggestion-photoStep 8. Place a few scoops in a soup dish, add “lost bread” or homemade bread croutons, and top with baby Swiss cheese or Gruyere cheese or a combo.  Broil at 450 until cheese is nicely melted.

Step 9. EAT!!!!


This made enough for four generous portions, plus I canned 5 – 8oz. single servings with the leftover.


Day 2 – January 2 – Red, White and Green (Card) Lasagna

lasagna-dinnerAs any good, self-respecting, person of British-Canadian heritage who loves food would do, I married an Italian girl with a mother who could really cook!  Since then I have joked that I am trying to earn my red, white and green card.  Tonight’s meal is part of that attempt.

Red, White and Green Lasagna with Salad and Parmesan Bread

I am going to mix a white lasagna with a Béchamel sauce and spinach in one layer with a layer of red lasagna with beef to create my desired red, white and green lasagna.  I have yummy home made croutons from last nights Cream of Broccoli Soup which will add a nice compliment to a side salad.  Since I have some great day-old bakery fresh bread I will also serve a nice toasted Parmesan bread on the side too.

White Sauce:

I will mix up a quick rue with butter (3 tablespoons), in which I will saute the onions (one small onion diced), and add a little flour (1/4 cup) and milk (1 cup) and one cup Greek Yogurt, until it is a nice white Béchamel sauce. Add some parmesan/pecorino/romano until it tastes more like an Alfredo sauce than a Béchamel sauce. I use Greek yogurt because I like it and I can reduce the fat without reducing the flavor.

Red Sauce:

A nice simple sauce from tomato puree, basil, olive oil, a little chopped onion, and a hint of oregano.


The fresh spinach looked awful at the market today so I settled on frozen spinach :*( which I will cook with a couple tablespoons butter and three cloves minced garlic, some garlic powder and onion powder. Enough spice and you might not even know it is frozen spinach. (Yes, you will, but I digress)


I have some really nice fresh ground beef from Predel’s which I will cook just until done.

Lasagna Noodles:

I precook the noodles for just a couple of minutes so that they are soft but not cooked entirely.

Once that is all prepped, here is the assembly: (see pictures below)

  1. A little red sauce on the bottom
  2. A layer of lasagna noodles
  3. A little more red sauce to cover the noodles
  4. Some ricotta Cheese, the meat, some mozzarella cheese
  5. A little red sauce
  6. A layer of lasagna noodles
  7. Some of the white sauce
  8. The spinach
  9. Some ricotta and mozzarella cheese, some grated cheese (Parmesan, pecorino, romano)
  10. The top layer of lasagna noodles
  11. Cover in white sauce and sprinkle with basil

Bake this at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes…. top with a little mozzarella, and cook 10-15 minutes more.

When done, remove from oven…and a HUGE lesson I learned from my Italian Mother-in-Law – is that it needs 15-20 minutes to rest before cutting and serving. So many foods need to set it is amazing but the difference is worth waiting for.

Serve with salad and garlic bread! (YUMMY!!!)

Photo Steps for those of you who might like them:

lasagna-1A little red sauce on the bottom

lasagna2A layer of lasagna noodles

A little more red sauce to cover the noodles, some ricotta Cheese, the meat, some mozzarella cheese, and a little more red sauce


lasagna7A layer of lasagna noodles

lasagna8Some of the white sauce and ricotta

lasagna9The spinach

lasagna10Some ricotta and mozzarella cheese, some grated cheese (Parmesan, pecorino, romano)

The top layer of lasagna noodles

lasagna11Cover in white sauce and sprinkle with basil

finished-lasagnaAll done and out of the oven… setting.