The Best Beef Stew

My kids Aunt Pam is a great cook and you will see a lot of her recipes here. I wish I had her talent. She is very brave and will try anything.  I am not so brave, but I will gladly copy her tried and true recipes and allow her to have all the glory.

The people who give your their food give you their heart – Cesar Chavez

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  • 5 lbs. sirloin tips (sometimes I use leftover roast beef cut into chunks and it is great)
  • 1 10z. package white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon flour (or corn starch to make it gluten free)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large can tomato sauce (i.e. Hunt’s)
  • 1 large turnip (I prefer 1 small)
  • 5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 6 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced

In large, heavy pot, brown sirloin tips, add mushrooms and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add flour (or corn startch) and mix well. Pour water over the beef mixture.  Add the can of tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and turnips.  If you are gluten free, leave out the flour and add a little cornstarch instead. Add more water and salt and pepper to taste.  I like to simmer for a few hours.

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YOU DEFINITELY NEED SOME BREAD TO GO WITH THIS STEW!

 

Allergens: Carrots, Gluten (unless switch flour for corn starch)

Perfect Roast Chicken

I spoke before of the fact that you need to learn how to cook three things in order to survive….one good breakfast, one good lunch and one good dinner.  Well this is the dinner. Roast Chicken is something I can make and be confident of.  Everyone is always so impressed and it is really quite easy.  Plus you can also make a great chicken soup after, which I will show you later. Here is a simple version for you to try….

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces. Just good food from fresh ingredients – Julia Child

Ingredients:

  • Roaster Chicken 7-8 lbs.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • Softened butter
  • Lemon

Preheat the over to 375 degrees F. Remover the giblets (I have to admit, I did leave these in one time and the whole meal was ruined. I believe more people have done it than they care to admit). Rinse the chicken inside and out. Pat dry with a paper towel. Put the chicken in a heavy duty roaster pan on a rack.

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Salt and pepper the chicken well, inside and out. Loosen the skin on the breasts and insert some lemon slices under it.

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Add the remaining lemon (cut up) into the cavity.  Rub the softened butter all over the chicken (Messy, but worth it!). Add some water to the bottom of the pan, (this helps with broth for soup later on).


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Cook for approximately 2 hours until juices run clear when the leg is cut or pulled on. (Internal temperature should be app. 165 degrees at breast and 175 degrees at thigh).

I usually shoot for 170 degrees at the breast, but that is my preference.   Let the chicken sit for a bit before cutting into it. Everyone in my family loves this and that is very hard to do with five picky eaters. Serve with rice or potatoes and some seasonal vegetables. Great for leftovers also
roast chicken

Fish Tacos – Taco Tuesday

So… Tacos? I could eat them every day. Hubby…not so much. Kiddo and I wanted Tacos today, but we need to win over the big guy. What to do? I know….. Fish Tacos.

I have never made them before, but there is a first for everything. Time to do some research. I looked at some great recipes and decided to wing it. First thing to do … head to the fish monger. Headed down to Fresh Catch to check out the selection. Captain’s Cut Cod it is.

It’s a ‘I want to fake my own death, move to Mexico & live off Tacos & Tequila’ kinda day! – Unknown

  • 1 lb. Captain’s Cut Cod
  • Two radishes sliced paper thin
  • Thinly sliced green cabbage
  • Pinch of chili powder
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Sour Cream Lime sauce
  • 8 corn tortillas

SOUR CREAM LIME SAUCE

  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 4 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice, more if needed
  • zest of lime

I loved this so much, I could eat it straight.

Prepare the sauce and let it sit for 15 minutes or so in the fridge to stay cold.

Meanwhile, on med/high heat, warm up the tortillas in a cast iron skillet. A few minutes on each side and then layer between dish towels to stay warm.

Cut the fish into 1 inch pieces.

Now, warm up another cast iron skillet on med/high heat. Sprinkle a pinch of chili powder and cumin on each piece and add to hot skillet. Heat 2-3 minutes on each side. I found that a small spatula was the best way to flip the fish to prevent it from falling apart. Put the skillet in the oven at 350 to finish cooking.

Now it is time to eat. One corn tortilla, some fish, radishes, cabbage and the lime sauce!

They came out fantastic! My husband now loves Taco Tuesdays!

 

Allergy Information: Seafood, Dairy, Gluten Free, Nut Free

 

 

 

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned Beef and Cabbage is that once a year meal I think I don’t like and then I make it and it’s great! I think the problem is, it’s not the prettiest meal to make. But it wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day in this Irish House without it.

 

May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows your dead – Irish Blessing

 

Ingredients: 

  • Corned Beef- 3-4 lbs in Brine with spices included
  • 4 potatoes, quartered
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • One large onion
  • 1 medium size green cabbage
  • Mustard (optional)

Put the corned beef in a large heavy pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Drain off the water and cover it again with cold water. My friend Kristen gave me this tip and I don’t know what I did before. It takes a lot of the salt out. Add the seasoning packet. Bring to a boil again and then lower temperature and simmer for about 2 hours.

Add potatoes, carrots and onions. Bring to a boil again, then lower to simmer for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add the cabbage and cook for about another 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve warm. Enjoy!

Just remember….everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

Additions: Mustard for Corned Beef

Allergens: Gluten Free, Nut free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Peanut Free, Soy free

Spinach, Lemon and Bacon Risotto

My first attempt at Risotto! Do you believe it? I have always been a big fan, but very intimidated to make it. It was so worth it.

No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing – Julia Child

Ingredients:

  • 5 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 4 cups of low-salt chicken broth (plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup for the end)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • Zest of the lemon
  • 1 cup of cooked chicken (chopped)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 3-4 cups of fresh spinach
  • 1 roasted shallot (chopped)
  • 1/2 -3/4 cups of freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large, heavy, oven-safe pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.

Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lemon juice and 4 cups of the chicken broth. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil. Cover the pot and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and return to stove top over medium-low heat. Now add the spinach, chicken and roasted shallots and remaining chicken broth. Stir for about 2 minutes (until spinach is wilted). Add more broth if needed. Add the bacon, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese and stir until creamy.

Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

 

Allergens: Dairy

 

Carbonara

When the recipe card is as old and worn as this one, you know it’s good. Not even sure where I got the recipe, but it is a staple in this house. At my bridal shower, oh so many years ago, the guests all brought me a recipe, it might be from there. This is the ultimate pantry meal.

I split this recipe in two and make half with regular pasta and half with gluten free to accommodate my whole family. It is great both ways!

Life is a combination of Magic and Pasta – Federico Fellini

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 lb. spaghetti, cooked (regular or gluten free)
  • 1/3 lb. bacon
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper (I like it spicy, so I add a little more)
  • 1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup boiling pasta water
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Cook pasta Al Dente.

In large skillet over medium high heat. Saute bacon until it browns. Remove bacon and put aside. Drain the bacon oil and then add two tbsp. olive oil, garlic and red pepper. Saute two minutes. Add wine and reduce by half.

Beat eggs vigorously and stir in a ladle of pasta water. Drain the pasta and to bacon pan and remove from heat. Add egg mixture, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper and toss until well combined and cheese has melted. Serve with extra cheese.

Allergens: Dairy, Egg, Wheat (can make gluten free)

Coq Au Vin

Growing up, this meal was one of my favorites. My dad, who discovered cooking in his 40’s enjoyed making this one. He got so much pleasure out of presenting such an impressive meal.  He never disappointed. It takes some time to make, but it is not hard to do, so I will give it a shot for my first official Sunday Dinner in a while. We will set the dining room table, pour some wine and have a traditional Sunday Dinner for this one.

The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. – Julia Child

  • 1/4 lb. butter
  • 12 tiny pearl onions
  • 1/4 lb. bacon strips cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 lbs. cut up chicken with bone (My kids like boneless, so I use a mixture of chicken thighs, boneless breast and breast with the bone)
  • 1/2 lb. white mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup flour (You can substitute corn starch to make gluten free)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup of brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups of red wine (a burgundy works best)
  • 1/4 tsp. Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. Herbs de Provence
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Heat 4 tbsp. butter in heavy, pan (I use a french dutch oven). Add bacon and cook until crisp. Remove from pan.

Add onions and cook until lightly browned. Remove and put aside.

Add the chicken to the pan drippings and cook until well-browned on all sides. Now set the chicken aside.

Add mushrooms and garlic to pan, cook until mushrooms are wilted. Remove from pan.

Add remaining butter to pan drippings. Remove from heat and gradually stir in flour until golden brown. Slowly add chicken stock, stirring constantly until well blended.

Return to heat, stir until sauce thickens. Add brandy, red wine, thyme, herbs and bay leaf.

Add chicken and veggies (If needed, transfer to a deeper pot). Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf.

Alternative: Final stage – Add to roasting ban and cover. Cook in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes or until chicken is tender to the fork.

Serve over mashed potatoes, egg noodles or even rice.

It is better the next day!!!

Allergens- Gluten (if susbtitute flour with corn starch it can be gluten free), garlic

Banana Bread

There are days when cooking is just not my thing and the first time I made banana bread was one of them. Even now…… twenty five years later, I still feel the sting of humiliation.  I was newly married and wanted to make it for my husband.  My sister had given me one of those homemade cookbooks, that you buy at church fairs and school fundraisers, and it had a recipe I thought I would try.  As I was reading it, even I thought maybe 5 tbsp. of baking powder was a little much, but hey, what did I know?  I am alone in my apartment experimenting and at the exact moment I add the baking powder, it begins to rise like Mt. Vesuvius into some strange, freaking, elementary school science project! As it overflows the bowl, onto the counter and then the floor, the front door opens and who walks in… my husband and is brother!  I must have looked like a deer in the headlights, because they saw their prey and pounced. These are the two most hilarious, sarcastic men I know and they had a field day.  This is one of the many cooking disaster stories that they tell and even I have to say, if it was anyone else but me, it would be hysterical.

After all these years, and lots of practice, I make a great banana bread and they both will agree.

Don’t be afraid to take whisks – Unknown

Banana Bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed

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The bananas need to be ripe….not pretty, just over ripe.  I actually freeze the bananas, so I always have some available.  The skin will turn black, but they are perfect inside.

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Sift all dry ingredients. (Hint: if you don’t have a sifter, use a whisk and very carefully whisk the dry ingredients together).

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Add in all the other ingredients.

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Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour.  Check with toothpick and if it comes out clean, it is done.

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Allergens: Eggs, Gluten 

Fish Chowder

This is the recipe that started it all – Aunt Betty’s Fish Chowder. Aunt Betty was the best, I don’t know where to begin to even describe her. Betty was my dad’s sister and was like his second mother.  My dad was the baby and the only boy and she loved him fiercely.  Betty never had children of her own, so she doted on him, even though he would never admit it.  She also showered us with love and treated us like her own children as well. Her house in South Boston, Ma., by the beach, was a warm and welcoming place that we would gladly allow our parents to leave us there whenever they wanted. Sadly, Aunt Betty died when I was in college and never got to meet my children, she would have been so thrilled to see our children and to spoil them rotten.

I was cleaning out a drawer one day and found this recipe for a simple fish chowder in her hand writing and remembered it immediately. (As a bonus, it is a great recipe from a food allergy perspective. It is very easily adaptable). I was a very picky eater as a child, but I loved this chowder. I can still see her in the kitchen on Ticknor Street making it for us.

I made the chowder that night and had such a flood of memories that I sat at the kitchen table and cried. My only explanation for the tears is that making her recipe made me remember the love.

The next morning I told my father about the recipe and he said “I make that all the time, what’s the big deal?” My response was, “You have changed it over the years and made it your own, this is the original, just make it.”

He called me a few days later to thank me for the memory. He loved it. Food is love and food is memories, so that is why I have chosen to write this blog. My children have never met my husband’s late parents but maybe making the food they loved and passing on the recipes will help them get to know their loved ones a little better.

What is done in love, is done well. – Vincent Van Gogh

Easy Fish Chowder

Sunday Chefs
This recipe is a simple basic chowder fabulous on its own but can be adapted in a lot of different ways.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine American, irish
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium Onion Diced
  • 3 tbsp Butter Salted or unsalted
  • 1 8 oz bottle Clam juice I use Snow's Bumblebee Brand
  • 1 12 oz Evaporated Skim Milk Can
  • 2 cups Potatoes Cubed
  • 1 lb. Cod Any white fish (haddock or cod)
  • 1 cup Water

Instructions
 

  • Brown onions in butter. After the potatoes have browned add the potatoes, clam juice Snow’s,Clam Juice All Natural, 8 oz and water. Lay fish on top, skin side up. Simmer, peel skin off fish (most times, I find there is no skin on the fish).  Stir, breaking up fish a little. When the potatoes are tender, add the evaporated milk and simmer a few minutes.  Add butter a few minutes before done.

Notes

Possible additions: crisp bacon, green onions, corn, heavy cream, substitute clams for fish, carrots.
TIP: If you get the fish home and it smells a bit fishy, soak in milk for at least a 1/2 hour and it usually takes most if not all of the smell away.
Allergy Information: Contains shellfish (clam juice), Fish, dairy, but egg free, nut free, peanut free and gluten free. 
Serve with Chowder Crackers
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Sunday Chefs jamblaya

Super Bowl Sunday!

My husband and I have a tradition of making Jambalaya on Super Bowl Sunday and we have become quite superstitious about it. I have recently finished a long battle against breast cancer and last year I was too sick to do anything. Too sick to cook, eat or even watch the game and the Patriots lost! Well this year I am cancer free and feeling good. So the menu for today is Jambalaya, corn bread, cheese steak calzones and homemade onion rings. Don’t worry there was a salad made so we could say there was something healthy! Lets hope it helps the Patriots in their battle against the Rams! If not, we will at least get a great meal.

It’s not whether you get knocked down, It’s whether you get up. – Vince Lombardi

Serve over white rice with a side of corn bread.

Sunday Chefs jamblaya

Jambalaya Recipe

Sunday Chefs
This easy and allergy friendly recipe never fails to impress.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course dinner, lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American, cajun
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Onion Large, chopped
  • 1 Green bell pepper Chopped
  • 3 Celery Stalks Chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves Chopped fine
  • 1 15 oz. can Diced Tomatoes No salt, undrained
  • 1.5 cups Smoked Sausage Fully cooked and chopped (Andouille or Chorizo)
  • ½ tsp. Dried Thyme Flakes
  • 1 tbsp. Parsley Chopped or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Hot Sauce (red pepper based) or more if you like
  • 1 lb. Shrimp Uncooked, peeled, non-frozen and de-veined

Instructions
 

  • Saute the sausage in a large cast iron skillet or heavy pot on medium heat. Once browned remove the sausage and set aside. Add the onions, peppers and celery to the pot, saute for 2 minutes and add garlic. Saute for another minute. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the shrimp. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and curled up.
  • (Even works great in the crock pot, just throw everything in and cook on low for 4-6 hours and add the shrimp in cook for another 20 minutes).
    Additions: Can substitute chicken for shrimp if you want. Okra
    Allergy information: Contains Shrimp. Nut Free, Peanut Free (depending on the sausage you use, so double check), egg free and dairy free.
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