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I am SO ready for fall! Temperatures are still high, but hey – no reason I can’t start making beef stew and pumpkin bread, right?

What I loved about this stew was that it was all mixed together and baked in the oven for 3 hours. You could make it in a slow cooker too, if you wanted a little longer cook time. The flavor was great and everything was perfectly cooked. I couldn’t have asked for an easier recipe to usher in the fall season!

The other plus to beef stew, and especially this one which uses a good amount of V-8 juice, is the amount of vegetables. I am NOT good at eating vegetables, so anything that gets them into me (preferably in a delicious way) gets extra points in my book.

We had this with some of the leftover focaccia bread from the other night, and it was scrumptious. Many thanks to Our Best Bites for another hit!

Oven (or Slow Cooker) Beef Stew (Recipe found here)

  • 1 1/2-2 lb. lean stew beef, cut into even smaller bite-sized pieces (just pull out a pair of kitchen shears and cut anything that looks like you’d need to use a knife and fork on) – or cut up a chuck roast, which is what I did.
  • 4-5 medium red potatoes, chopped
  • 4-5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 12-oz. cans or 3 c. vegetable juice cocktail (V8)
  • 1 10-oz. can condensed tomato soup
  • 10 oz. water (just use the can from the tomato soup to measure)
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes (or 2 tsp. beef base)
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Combine ingredients in a large oven-safe pot that comes with an oven-safe lid. Cook in heated oven for 3 hours. Remove from oven and serve.

You can also cook this in your slow cooker on low for 9-10 hours (or until vegetables and meat are tender) or on high for 5-6.

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I apologize for the quality – or lack thereof – of this photo. We were super hungry and ready to eat, and I snapped a quick picture before putting everything on the table.

That said, meatloaf is rarely photogenic.

Ina’s original recipe (plug for Ina Garten here, love all her recipes!) is for turkey meatloaf, which I would definitely like to try. I used ground sirloin because it’s what I had, and my muffins (as you can see) were so moist they fell apart quite easily. Turkey tends to be a bit dryer, and that extra moisture would balance out nicely.

Ina’s recipe also originally called for 5 pounds of meat, which is just a bit much for two people šŸ™‚ So I hunted around and found this recipe at You’re Gonna Bake It After All, which is a nice scaled down version of Ina’s.

I have to say, we really enjoyed it! Meatloaf can be hit or miss, but I will definitely be making this recipe again. I would also prefer to make it in a loaf pan, but I ran out of time last night and went with the muffins.

Ina’s Turkey Meatloaf

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground turkey (1.25 lbs is okay, or can use ground sirloin)
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until onions are translucent but not browned.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Mix well. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, egg, and onion mixture. Add ground meat and mix until completely incorporated.

Press into muffin cups. Spread ketchup on top. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 165F and the meatloaf is cooked through. (This takes about 1 – 1 1/2 hours for meatloaf in a loaf pan and much less time, about 35 minutes or so, for the muffins).

Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

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So apparently JW does not like edamame. Who knew?

That said, this was a pretty good dish. I happen to love edamame, and JW and I both agreed that the flavor and texture of the onions and napa cabbage was fantastic. The chicken was amazing, and JW raved about it.

In the future, I will probably doctor the sauce a little bit to give it a more complex flavor – or I will just combine this recipe and our favorite Pork Lo Mein, since they really are pretty similar.

Many thanks to Culinary in the Desert for another delicious meal!

Chicken, Edamame and Noodle Stir-Fry (Original recipeĀ here)

  • 8 ounces linguine noodles (or fettucini)
  • 2 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (we will add more next time)
  • 1 pound napa cabbage, thinly sliced (we will add more next time)
  • 2 cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed and cooked (I used a microwavable cook-in-the-bag thing – and we will probably use less than 2 cups since JW was not thrilled about it)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water – drain well.

While you wait for the pasta to cook, toss chicken with cornstarch and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper in a medium bowl.

In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high, Add chicken and cook until lightly golden and cooked through. Scoop out the chicken on to a plate – keep warm.

Pour remaining oil into the skillet. Stir in onion and garlic – cook, stirring frequently until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cabbage – cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 2-4 minutes. Stir in edamame, vinegar, soy sauce, chicken and noodles – season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until thoroughly heated through, about 5 minutes (I just mixed it all up and did not continue cooking – the noodles were still hot and warmed everything to a nice temperature)

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We’ve been on a vegetarian kick with meals this week. JW wanted a salad for dinner on Monday, so we created our own little salad bar. Dinner last night was this chili, and tonight we’re doing ratatouille. I’m sure meat will make an appearance next week, primarily because I have nearly exhausted my list of vegetarian recipes that don’t taste like cardboard.

I was attracted to this dish for two reasons – one, because I love beans and I’m always up for trying a new bean dish, and two, because it was originally a Cooks Illustrated recipe, and Cooks Illustrated is my hero. We thought it was good, although as JW put it, “very tomatoey.” I’d like to try adding something to cut the brightness of the tomatoes, but for a 30-minute healthy dish, I’d say this was really very good.

Oh also, because JW does not like corn, I added an extra can of beans. I’m giving it to you with my adjustments.

Cornbread recipe to follow, hopefully tomorrow.

Easy Vegetarian Bean Chili (Original recipe here)

CI Note: A combination of beans is better in this (kidney, black, pinto, whatever). Also, don’t sub in anything for the pureed diced tomatoes, as the consistency is vital.

  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans beans (see note above), drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 teaspoons minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Pour tomatoes and the accompanying juices in a food processor. Pulse 4 or 5 times, until it’s kinda chunky.

In a large pot (dutch oven), combine tomatoes, beans, chipotles, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir and cover. Heat over high until it starts boiling. Drop heat to medium-low and simmer for the time being.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. When very hot, add onion, chili powder, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir. Saute until onions are soft and a little translucent, around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic. Stir. Saute until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add onion mixture into pot with tomatoes and beans. Scrape browned bits with the back of your spoon, if you have any, and add them too. Drop heat to medium-low and cook about 15 minutes, until chili has a more chili-like consistency. Stir occasionally.

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Due to a small miscommunication with our gas company, our gas was shut off unexpectedly about a week ago. When they came out to our house, the hot water heater and range came back on, but the heat did not. Lucky for us, we have made do for the past week with a couple of space heaters (of which every hardware store in Houston orders 3 at the beginning of winter, and does not reorder when they sell out, so it is nearly impossible to find one in February).

I don’t care who you are – even in Houston, and even with space heaters, a house with no heat in the middle of winter is freakin cold. So finally yesterday we called our home warranty (thank you, seller of our new house, for purchasing a home warranty for us) and they sent someone out today to fix it. Yea! I am super excited that I don’t have to dread getting out of the shower anymore.

That said, I do realize that most parts of the country are experiencing blizzard-like conditions at the moment as a winter storm the size of Jupiter meanders across the United States, and that our high-40’s temperatures really aren’t all that impressively cold to you guys. And to that all I have to say is…

Cold is cold. Period. And on cold days, one of the best meals to warm up with is chili. It’s warm, cozy, and can be (like this one) healthy as well.

I encourage you to try this with chicken and/or turkey as called for in the recipe. If you have true texture issues with ground poultry, of course you can use beef. Regardless of your choice of meat, the flavor of the spices and other ingredients really makes this a great chili. Because of some things that came up last night, I didn’t quite follow the cook time. I let it cook a little over an hour and stirred in the beans right before serving.

Of course, like most chilis, it was excellent the second day as well.

Chicken Chili With White Beans (Original recipe here)
Note: This is not a spicy chili. If you want more heat, increase the cayenne or red pepper flakes.

  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • Ā¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Ā¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups onions, choppedĀ (about 2 medium onions)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds ground chicken and/or turkey (not extra lean breast meat)
  • Two 28 oz. cans chopped or diced tomatoes (I used one crushed because it was what I had)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or use regular and decrease the salt a little bit)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-15 oz. canĀ small CannelliniĀ beans, drained and rinsed

Make spice mixture by combining chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, oregano,Ā cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Mix well and set aside next to stove.

Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed nonreactive (not cast iron or aluminum) pot over medium heat. Add onions and red bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently,Ā until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring to prevent garlic from burning, about two minutes more.

Increase heat to medium high and add the ground chicken and spice mixture. As the chicken cooks, use a wooden spoon to break the meat into very small clumps; cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, chicken broth, remaining teaspoon salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered (set lid ajar so steam has a few inches to escape), for about one hour, stirring occasionally.

Stir in white beans and let simmer, uncovered, for about 50 minutes more, or until meat is tender and flavors are well combined. For a soupier chili, you can add additional water. For a thicker chili, simmer uncovered until desired consistency is reached. Taste and add salt if necessary.

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I love pasta. I love carbs in general, but pasta has a special place in my heart. As does bread… and cake… and cookies… but I digress šŸ˜‰

Pasta is good. You can dress it down for family or dress it up for company, and it never loses its class. It can be the star of the show, or it can be in the background. It’s always a fantastic go-to for dinner.

This particular dish is simple, light, and tastes great. JW was enthusiastic and asked me to keep the recipe for sure. It’s particularly good if you want a pasta dish without overpowering loads of sauce. It has a special ingredient that pushes it beyond your typical tomatoes/garlic/Italian spices combo. Can you see it?

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It’s BACON!! Can’t go wrong there šŸ™‚ Enjoy!

Amatriciana (Original recipe here)

  • 4 slices bacon, diced (or more if desired. I doubled this amount.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound linguine pasta, uncooked
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, or a generous pinch of dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cook diced bacon in a large saucepan over medium high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain all but 2 Tablespoons of drippings from the pan.

Add onions and cook over medium heat about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes; cook 30 seconds. Add canned tomatoes, undrained; simmer 10 minutes, breaking up tomatoes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, and drain.

Stir basil into the sauce, and toss with cooked pasta. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

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