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Friday Recipe Exchange: Bourbon Beef Stew

Bourbon Beef Stew

Just got back from an awesome play date for Bixby and lunch with friends for me. It sounds like we are in for a big snow storm next week and I am not ready. But the weekend is supposed to be nice, so we’ll get out and enjoy it while we can.

Speaking of snow, we had our first real snow this week, along with thunder, wind and rain. Although the inch of snow is long gone, the temperatures stayed cold enough for several days to make soups and stews the recipes of choice this week.

I began the week out by making Cream of Chicken Soup, recipe here.

Next up, the weekly dinner menu was Hearty Tomato Soup and Awesome Grilled Cheese, full menu, recipes and shopping list are all here.

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JeffreyW went with the ultimate comfort food (above), Baked Macaroni and Cheese, click here.

And if you want to spice things up, my friend Alton (not that one) makes Carne en su Jugo, recipe here –  there is also a full dinner menu and recipes at that link.

For the pet lovers, there is a Bixby update this week – he discovered piles of fall leaves.

How is your Friday the 13th going? What’s on your menu this weekend? We have a new movie theater opening, so that and a pottery show are on the agenda here. Are there good things cooking in your kitchen? Share your favorite soups and stews, I can always use something new for my recipe box. Especially with more cold on the way.

For tonight’s featured recipe (pictured at the top of the post), I played around with my basic stew recipe to make it bit more fun when friends came over for dinner this week. I didn’t have any wine handy, but always keep a bottle of good whisky in the pantry, so that became the little something extra for this one.

Bourbon Beef Stew

  • 1 lb chuck roast
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (more as desired)
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 rutabaga or parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into large chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour

skillet, dutch oven or slow cooker

Trim fat from chuck roast and cut into 1-inch pieces. Heat oil in skillet, add beef and quickly brown on all sides. Reduce heat, add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add beef and garlic to dutch over or slow cooker. Deglaze skillet and add liquid to the beef mixture.

Add bourbon, vegetables, bay leaf and then add enough water to cover everything.

For stove top, bring to a low boil and stir occasionally. Once it begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium low cover and cook for 1 hour (longer will give you more flavor – reduce heat to low after 1 hour).  Stir occasionally.

For slow cooker – cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Then add the thickening sauce (below) and cook on high, uncovered, until thickened.

To thicken, heat 1 tbsp of butter and 1/4 quarter cup flour in skillet, stirring constantly until the flour is golden. Slowly whisk in about 1/2 cup broth from the stew until smooth. Whisk mixture into the stew, bring to a low boil, stirring constantly until stew is thickened. Reduced heat and let simmer 10 minutes and serve.

That’s it for this week. Have a terrific weekend – TaMara








Food Pr0n – Gyros

DSC_1337 (1600x1060)I was tempted to use the entire 16 inch tannour loaf as a single gyro but better sense prevailed. (Note:  That photo is of a typical tannour oven of a design thousands of years old, my loaf was made by more modern methods.) This one uses 1/4 of the loaf.  Note the cunningly deployed mint stem used as a toothpick.  LOL  I think about buying some foil/paper wraps that street vendors use to hold one together.  Every time I make these things and try to get a photo I am reminded that I have yet to do so.DSC_1336 (1600x1060)The slices of lamb/beef meatloaf are about the best that you can do at home, a serious gyro vendor will have a vertical rotisserie going.  There are recipes all over the web for the meatloaf: I’ve used Alton Brown’s recipe to good effect.  His uses all lamb, I’ve gone half and half with ground beef and added a few more spices – cinnamon and allspice.  I add dill to his tzatziki sauce but mint works.

Really Quick Dinners: Pasta Rustica

Scrolling through my recipes looking for ones I pulled together by rummaging around the pantry, freezer and refrigerator and came up with this one. Quick, easy and versatile.

Pasta Rustica

  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine pasta
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 green or red pepper
  • 4 green onions
  • ½ tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Optional: ¼ lb sliced pepperoni or ¼ lb cubed turkey

saucepan, large skillet

Fill saucepan with water and bring to a boil.

Chop tomatoes, pepper and green onions (use greens and whites).  Heat oil in skillet, add onions, garlic and pepper, sauté until onions are golden, careful not to let garlic burn.  Add pepperoni and turkey.  Let simmer on medium to low medium heat.

Add pasta to water while ingredients simmer in skillet.  Cook according to pkg. instructions.

Once pasta is al dente, add tomatoes to skillet, sauté 1-2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or pasta spoon, transfer pasta to skillet, letting most of the water drain before transferring. There should be just enough water on the pasta to create a nice sauce. If it seems too dry, add a few spoonfuls of the pasta water. Stir and serve with grated Parmesan.


Dinner Menu: Herbed Fettuccine and Apple Salad

Apple Salad1

Still not a lot of cooking going on here this week. This menu is quick and easy for those kinds of weeks.

On the board tonight:

  1. Herbed Fettuccini
  2. Apple Salad
  3. Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt

Herbed Fettuccini

  • 9 oz fresh fettuccine
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz fresh spinach, torn
  • ¼ cup snipped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz fresh parmesan, grated or goat cheese (chevre)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 6 oz artichokes hearts (opt)

2 large saucepans, large serving bowl

Cook pasta according to pkg. directions. Next bring broth to boiling in second saucepan. Add green onion and spinach. Reduce heat, cook and stir for 2 to 4 minutes or until spinach is slightly wilted. Add parsley, herbs, salt & pepper; mix well. Remove from heat; cover and set aside. Drain cooked pasta and remove to serving dish, cover and keep warm

In saucepan combine cheese, milk, and butter. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Add pasta; toss to coat. Remove from heat. Add vegetable mixture, hazelnuts, opt artichokes, half of the tomato to the pasta mixture; toss gently to mix, heat until warm through. Transfer back to a serving bowl, garnish with remaining tomato.

Apple Salad

  • 16 oz spring greens, washed
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 Fuji (or other sweet red) apples
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 oz toasted  slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

serving bowl

Layer greens in bowl.  Core and cut apples into large chunks.  Layer over greens, add raisins and nuts.  Mix together vinegar, oil, salt & pepper.  Drizzle over salad, toss, then crumble feta over the top.

Note: If you can’t find toasted almonds, heat a skillet, add almonds and stir constantly until they are lightly toasted.


Copyright What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Spring Edition


DSC_1193 (1600x1060)I opened a jar of habanero hot sauce a while back and there’s been a squeeze bottle full of it in the door rack of the fridge since then,  I decided I had better use it on something.  Turns out it works very well on a pork taco.  Either I’m tougher than I used to be or the aging in the fridge has tempered the heat in this particular batch – it was a lot sweet and just a tad hot.

Mmm… chili

DSC_1187 (1600x1060)That beef roast we used to make the veggie beef soup yesterday was plenty big to allow for leftovers.  Chili sounded good, what with the nighttime temps dipping into the 40s.  I almost brought out the meat grinder for the beef but decided against it in favor of a knife.  I left it in the freezer for a tad too long so it was more frozen than firm but my knife is sharp and I am able to bring a lot of weight to bear.  It ended up in a 1/4 inch dice – almost a mince.  I added the same amount of pork sausage, ending with 2 pounds or so in total.  I wanted to try a marinade so I put the meat into a stainless bowl and drizzled in rice vinegar and soy sauce, sprinkled on garlic powder, onion powder, and various chili powders, grated in half a big onion, diced and added the remainder, several minced garlic cloves, a couple cups of chopped peppers (green bell, poblano, jalapeno), salt, pepper, dry mustard, brown sugar, and maybe a few things more,  I’m sure I’m  forgetting something but this is most of it and should suffice.  I sealed that all into a plastic container and left it in the fridge overnight.20151011_103627[1] (1600x1060)

Cooking it down today was by far the easiest part.  Cook the meat and marinade in small batches and dump those into a bigger pot.  I like my Dutch oven for that.  Once you have the big pot going add your favorite beans and canned tomatoes – I like the tomato bits with green chilies.  I also stir in tomato paste or sauce, depending on how liquid it is, and bring out my secret weapon – anchovy paste.  A tablespoon will do and it adds a nice “something” I’d have trouble describing.  We’ve borrowed a word from the Japanese that covers it: umami.  Let it simmer for a couple of hours on the stove top, or in a 325 oven.  Add water as needed.



Burger Pr0n

DSC_1152 (1600x1060)Make mine POM – pickles, onions, and mustard.  It might just be my favorite version but I won’t turn down a nice mushroom swiss burger.  That tomato cucumber salad in the back was the enhanced version, it had feta and balsamic glaze and was terrific.DSC_1155 (1600x1060)

Dinner Menu: Grilled Steak with Coffee Rub and Blueberry Coffeecake

Blueberry Coffee CakeBeen busy with my new motorized standing desk. I haven’t even stepped in the kitchen today. Had to put the desk together, then actually get some work done. I’ll post more about it tomorrow, it’s very cool. Until then, here is one of my most requested recipes:

From August 2013

A friend of mine spent a few months one summer experimenting with coffee rubs. This was one of my favorites. If you need something fun to do with your next grilled steak, this is a recipe to try. And with my love of blueberries, can’t go wrong with a blueberry coffeecake.  Yum.

On the board tonight:

  1. Steak with Coffee Rub
  2. Green Beans w/Bacon & Onion
  3. Baked Potatoes
  4. Blueberry CoffeeCake

Steak with Coffee Rub

  • 3 tbsp chili powder (pure ancho or a blend)
  • 3 tbsp finely ground coffee (espresso works best)
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika (use a good one)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb of steak (rib-eye, sirloin, NY strip, etc) in 4 thick pieces

Mix together all spices. Lightly rub each steak with oil and then coat liberally on both sides with coffee rub. Now you can cook in a pre-heated skillet on medium-high heat, 5 to 7 minutes each side for medium rare. You can broil in the oven, using the second slot down from broiler, for 5 minutes each side, again for rare to medium rare, longer for medium. Or if you’re lucky (sigh) you can grill them outside. Cooking times will vary no matter which style you choose, so watch carefully and you’ll probably have to use a meat thermometer to really judge, because the rub makes it a little harder to eyeball it. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Green Beans w/Bacon & Onions

  • 1 lb fresh or frozen green beans (if fresh, snap off ends and snap into smaller pieces)
  • 2 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Sm. Saucepan, steamer and Skillet

Steam beans until slightly crisp, but tender. While beans are steaming, begin browning bacon until crisp. You can drain most of the bacon drippings, leaving 1 tbsp to lightly coat beans. Add onions. Drain beans and dab with a paper towel. Add to bacon mixture, mixing well, until beans are coated in bacon drippings. Cook on medium-low for 1 to 2 minutes, until onions are heated through.

Blueberry CoffeeCake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp cultured buttermilk powder (or 1 cup butter milk  & omit water)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 8 oz frozen blueberries


  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup flour

8×8 baking dish, greased

2 bowls

In bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, buttermilk and mix well. Make a well in the center add egg, water & oil. Stir quickly until all everything is mixed well, but don’t over mix. Fold in blueberries. Spread batter evenly in baking dish. In bowl, mix topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the top of batter. Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Shopping List:

  • 3 tbsp chili powder (pure ancho or a blend)
  • 3 tbsp finely ground coffee (espresso works best)
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika (a good one)
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb of steak
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen green beans
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 4 green onions
  • 4 tbsp cultured buttermilk powder or 1 cup buttermilk
  • egg
  • 8 oz blueberries

Also: brown sugar, butter, flour, vegetable oil, vanilla, salt, baking powder, sugar, fresh ground pepper


Friday Recipe Exchange: Peaches and Peppers

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JeffreyW’s garden bounty

Another week just flew by and it’s time for the recipe exchange. I came home from NE with a car full of fresh vegetables from my brother’s garden. I’m afraid some of tomatoes did not survive the change in altitude very well. But I made fresh salsa with them and all was well.

I gifted my family with Palisade peaches and with the few that were left, my mom made Peach Cobbler (recipe here). At that link you can also see a photo of the 110 year old house I considered putting a bid on before heading out on my trip.

Dinner menu this week was Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs and another cobbler. For the full dinner menu, recipes and shopping list, click here.

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JeffreyW turns his garden bounty into spicy Five Pepper Jelly.

Finally, JeffreyW was showing off his Five Pepper Jelly, and I wish I canned because I LOVE pepper jellies. How he transforms peppers into jelly, click here and what he does with it, yum, click here (warning, click and you’ll want biscuits and gravy).

For the pet lovers, Bixby took time out from his daily adventures to write a diary entry here.

Cooler weather has put me in the mood for fall recipes, especially soups. What are you looking forward to making as fall approaches? What is on the menu for the weekend?

Tonight’s featured recipe has to be all about the peaches again, since it’s a short two to three weeks of sweetness. This recipe is sweet and spicy, great for lunch or dinner.

Spicy Peach Dressing

  • 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and quartered
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jalapeño or other hot pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Purée all of the ingredients, except oil, in a blender or food processor until smooth. Continue to blend, on low, while adding oil slowly. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate.

Spinach Chicken Salad

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 small sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb cleaned baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 1 peach, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 3 ounces crumbled bleu cheese or chevre

Place the chicken in a plastic zipper bag with ½ cup of dressing. Marinate 2 hours in refrigerator. Remove chicken, discard marinade and grill until cooked through (165 degrees at center).

Toss the spinach, onion, walnuts and cheese with the remaining 3/4 cup dressing. Slice the grilled chicken and arrange on top of the salad.

Serving: 4 to 6

That’s it for this week. Have a good weekend and enjoy the last full week of August, I know I will.  – TaMara



Summer Dinner Menu: Fajita Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs

Chicken kabobs

I thought we’d send summer out with a bang and do a spicy grilled mix and some fruit cobbler. I am a summer worshiper and I mourn its passing. Let’s have a moment of silen…okay, done now. Bring on the fall foods! It was cool enough today that I was actually thinking of soup. Chicken Tortilla Soup and Sweet Pepper Potato Soup (recipe coming up soon).

On the board tonight:

  1. Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs
  2. Black Beans
  3. Rice
  4. Fruit Cobbler

Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning


In bowl, mix together 1 tbsp oil, garlic, salt, pepper, & 1 tbsp fajita seasoning, add chicken and toss, coating chicken well.

Cut all vegetables into large chunks (about 8 pieces each):

  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning
  • 1 cup fresh salsa

4 metal skewers and bowl

In bowl, combine vegetables with oil, vinegar, garlic, 1 tbsp fajita seasoning and toss gently to coat well. Assemble onto skewers with chicken, using tomato chunks as first and last item (keeps everything else in place).  Grill, turning frequently until chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

Black beans

To liven up black beans, add a dash of lime juice, some chopped cilantro and a bit of cayenne or chili powder.

Fruit Cobbler

  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz fresh fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)
  • 1 tbsp sugar

8X8 baking dish, bowl

In 350° oven, melt butter in baking dish. In bowl, sift together flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder & salt. Add milk & egg, whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour into baking dish (don’t stir butter in). Scatter fruit evenly over the top of the batter and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until fruit bubbles and batter is golden brown.

Shopping List:

  • 12 to 16 oz can black beans
  • 1 cup dry rice
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • fajita seasoning
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 8 oz fresh salsa
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 oz milk
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz fresh fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)

Also: oil, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, baking powder



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