Monday, December 30, 2013

Beef Stew in the Le Creuset

Beef Stew in the Le Creuset... I am excited to announce that one of my most lovely gifts this Holiday season was a much desired Le Creuset dutch oven. I have been wanting one for ages and I can finally say that I am a proud owner! To christen this bad boy I decided a hearty beef stew would be proper. There are so many stew recipe's out there and after perusing the gamete I finally decided to sort of follow along with one I saw posted by The Pioneer Woman. This was my first successful experience in browning meat and then cooking until fork tender - that part definitely worked. Unfortunately I have a pretty bad cold so my taste buds are suppressed in terms of being able to judge the flavor fully. I think if I make this next time I would continue to add more salt/pepper/spices if the flavor was not quite robust enough, but I think this is a really good way to start off a stew. Additionally, this was a pretty liquidy stew, which I knew going into it. If you wanted it to be thicker, I would suggest cutting the liquid in half.

What I used:
2 lbs stew meat
4 cups beef broth (I would cut this in half next time, or perhaps use 1 can tomato soup and 1 can beef broth)
12 oz beer
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
tablespoon Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil/butter for cooking
Carrots (PW suggests 4 large, I used two small packets of baby carrots)
Potatoes (4-5 medium sized red potatoes)
Green Beans (just eyeball it - you can do it)

Heat oil and butter in the pan to sear the meat. I did this in two batches - once the first batch was browned on all sides (think 3-5 minutes in total) I placed them on a plate and added the second batch. Once all of the meat was seared I added the diced onion and the 3 crushed/chopped garlic cloves. Next I added all of the other ingredients in and gave it a good mix. While it came to a boil I cut some of the larger pieces of stew meat into small bite sized pieces and then added all of the meat back to the stew - as Pioneer Woman points out, include the meat juice when you dump it back in!

From there I pretty much turned it to low and put the lid on the pot and let it do it's thing for about 2.5 hours. At that point I added in a bunch of chopped carrots and potatoes for another 45 minutes. About 15 minutes before serving I also added chopped green beans.

The new beauty

Diced onion and garlic

stew meat

First round of browning

First batch on the right, second batch browning

Sauteing the onions and garlic

Cut the meat in smaller peices

Add it all to the pot and simmer



I can't wait to get over this cold and try this recipe again and I can actually taste it and give an update!! In terms of ease and texture I was super pleased with the whole thing. Look out for more Dahlicious posts that will include my new Le Creuset!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Homemade Meatloaf

Homemade Meatloaf... Meatloaf is actually one of those odd comfort foods that I always think I don't really like. But recently, as I believe I've mentioned here before, I found a great solution at my local Mariano's. It's already mixed with all the herbs etc and then you just bake it. But I came to the conclusion that meatloaf should be in my personal repertoire of go to dishes so I've looked at a lot of meatloaf recipes online. They all have some "secret" but none of them seemed like ones I wanted to follow to a T, mostly they just provided some good inspiration - plus I already stocked up on a few ingredients I thought I might want to use so that was also a driving factor.

What I Used:
1.5 lbs ground beef
2 slices of white bread (crusts removed and torn into small pieces)
1 cup of milk to soak the bread in (I'm estimating a cup, might be more, just cover the bread with it in a bowl)
Handful of chopped parsley
1 egg
1 pouch of onion soup mix
A spoonful of plain diced tomatoes (I had these leftover from the tortilla soup)
Salt and Pepper

Other things you could add:
Sauteed onion
Crushed garlic
Breadcrumbs instead of bread
The list goes on...

I started by removing the crusts of the bread and tearing it into small pieces. I'd seen this tactic of water or milk soaked bread instead of bread crumbs in a number of recipe's so I decided to go with it. I let it sit in a small bowl of milk while I dumped everything else into another bowl. Literally all of those things go in one big bowl. Once the bread was down soaking I squeezed out the excess liquid and added it to the other ingredients and gave the whole thing a vigorous mix by hand. Once It felt like the ingredients were evenly distributed I put the ground beef in a loaf pan and baked it at 375 for about an hour and 5 minutes. I cut into it 40 minutes and then let it keep cooking, continually checking.

It was incredibly moist and about 10 minutes before taking it out of the oven I actually drained a bit of the juices in the pan. I saw other recipes online that actually just form it into a loaf shape and cook it on a baking sheet - that is a good option if  you don't have a loaf pan (I also noticed those ones tended to be topped with slabs of bacon, also not a bad idea.

Anywho this was incredibly easy and so Dahlicious - I think the bread was a must try and the tomatoes also added a nice little change of flavor when you got one in a bite. Hope this inspires everyone to try making a meatloaf from scratch with all your favorite things involved!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup... We got our first real snowfall this weekend and Sunday night, after a trek through the fluffy flakes to yoga and back, soup seemed like the perfect option.

The week of Thanksgiving my family ventured to my maternal grandparents house in the foothills of some lovely mountains in CA. It's our yearly tradition and it's really become a favorite for everyone. We arrived late on Tuesday night and so my grandma had planned an easy dinner which could be consumed at different times throughout the night as family members trickled in. She prepared a homemade tortilla soup of sorts, which my aunt had recently turned her onto. The recipe is UBER simple and can be tweaked to be the exact Dahlicious combo you love - but the main ingredients that really help develop that flavor without all the authentic spice adding on your own are the Swanson's Tortilla Soup Broth and the canned Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes. YUM.

What you need:
1 box Tortilla soup broth
1 can Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes (you could go spicier but it already has a good kick with just this)
1/2 14oz can of plain diced tomatoes (I'm saving the other half for another night this week)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can corn (drained and rinsed)
1/2 Lime worth of juice
2 chicken breasts

**Optional additions:
Spanish Rice
Extra lime wedges
Sour Cream
(the list could go on, tortilla strips, raw onion etc)

Cook the rice according to box directions - mine took 25 minutes. Simultaneously poach two chicken breasts in water. Simply place them in a shallow sauce pan, cover with water, bring to a boil then cover with a lid and let simmer on low until done. Then shred!

For the soup, literally, dump all contents in a pot, give it a stir, bring to a boil then turn down and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

The lineup

I would totally recommend this exact rice if you find it at your store and don't already have a favorite.

Dump in all ingredients except for the rice and chicken which you'll cook seperately

Last night's toppings

Pate the rice...

Then smother in soupy goodness!

When you're ready to serve place a heaping scoop of rice in your bowl, then ladle the soup right over. Add your toppings (I used cheese, cilantro, avocado, and cilantro) and ENJOY this Dahlicious soup.