Category Archives: Food and Recipes

Meat Update

It’s trash day, and I just cleaned out my freezer, because for the first time in five years I remembered that I’ve been meaning to do that and I remembered it on trash day.

I found some chicken breasts that expired in 2004.

This begs a question, which you can answer by clicking here:

What? It was frozen!

This has been your meat update.

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This Is No Longer Timely, Nor Is It Topical, But I’m Posting It Anyway

The gingerbread stylings of Hannah, Abby and Sam

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Christmas Eve letter to Santa, as scribed by Abby

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Kids on Christmas morning, awaiting their official release from the hallway. Please note the absence of daylight.

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This Is Why I Exercise

Again, with the soup. I’m sorry, I can’t help it. I blame my grandmothers.

Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings

This is my favorite version of a winter beef stew, which is, as far as I’m concerned, one of VERY FEW existing saving graces of cold weather (the others are: 2) ice skating, and 3) hot chocolate.) This stew is very easy to make, but takes its sweet time getting cooked. However, the resulting rich, smoky flavor and incredibly tender bites of slow-cooked beef are well worth the time spent within stirring distance.

Making the stew:

3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 TBLS peanut oil
5 thick-sliced bacon strips, chopped (I used Trader Joe’s Applewood Smoked Center Cut Bacon)
3 cups finely chopped onions (3 or 4 medium onions)
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 or 4 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or finely chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
5 1/2 cups low-sodium canned beef broth (can sub a cup or two of red wine for some of the broth)
1 14 1/2-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added purée

6 medium carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
3 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 TBSP cornstarch (optional; can be used to thicken stew if necessary)

And then, the dumplings. If you’re in a hurry, you can go the Bisquick route (Bisquick + milk + scallions tossed in the pot,) or skip them altogether, and serve up the stew with a hearty bread, instead.)

2/3 cup whole milk (sorry Bon Appetit, I used lowfat)
2 large eggs
3 TBLS minced chives or 2 scallions (green parts only, chopped)
2 TBSP minced fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I subbed whole wheat flour for about half of the total amount)
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Place rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F.

Sprinkle beef with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat oil in large, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, cook beef until brown, stirring occasionally and scraping up browned bits, about 8 minutes. Transfer meat to bowl.

Add bacon to the same pot. Sauté until crisp, about 5 minutes. (I discarded about 2/3 of the bacon grease after sautéing.) Add onions, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Cover and cook until onions are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Return beef to pot. Add five cups canned beef broth and crushed tomatoes. Cover and bring to a simmer.

Transfer pot to oven. Bake until beef is just tender, stirring occasionally, about one hour. Add carrots and potatoes. Cover; bake until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 30 minutes. Uncover; bake until beef is very tender, about 25 minutes.

While the stew bakes, prep the dumplings: Whisk milk and eggs in medium bowl. Stir in chives and parsley. Let stand at room temp for 30 minutes. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into large bowl. Add milk mixture. Stir just until blended.

(The following step is optional — I didn’t bother.) Whisk remaining 1/2 cup beef broth and cornstarch in small bowl to blend. Bring stew to simmer over medium heat. Stir cornstarch mixture into stew. Return to a simmer, stirring until sauce thickens.

(This part is cool; alert the kids!) Spoon dumpling batter in 12 dollops on top of simmering stew. Cover tightly; simmer until dumplings are puffed and tester inserted into center of dumplings comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Tooooooo delicious.

Simple Needs

Life Rule #372: Never pass up an opportunity to toss a penny in a fountain.

… sometimes your wishes come true! (Occasionally, in a matter of mere minutes.)

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Life Rule #373 (according to Abby): On those rare occasions when your mother grants you a tall vanilla creme frappuccino, always request extra whipped cream.

Uncle Doug’s Thanksgiving Recipe

1.) Remove cap from can of whipped cream.

2.) Spray liberally into the mouth of an adorable two year-old.

3.) Be thankful for her extremely tolerant mother, who indulges us by allowing such silliness, even after I insulted her dog.

4.) Repeat.

Diva In Training

When you’re eight years-old and wearing flip-flops in November and cruising the ‘hood with your friends, and then you fall down in a mud puddle and run back to your friend’s house in search of warm running water and dry socks, happiness is…

…chicken nuggets and hot chocolate and macaroni and cheese.

Note: There is no school today, so there are extra children here. They won’t stay still, so I can’t accurately report how many, exactly.

As I made lunch today, Hannah’s friend Josie (”Charlotte” in last spring’s Big Theatrical Production) asked, in her best hopeless-and-hungry voice, “How long until the food is ready?”

I pretended to be very offended, dropped my jaw to show my extreme shock at her question, and said, “You’re so demanding!” Then, I smiled, and answered, “Eight minutes.”

Josie widened her eyes to express her dire need for food RIGHT NOW, and said, “Eight minutes!!?? Oh, CHEEEEEZNIPPLES!!!

She spun herself around in a perfectly executed Dramatic Huff, and walked away.

(Then, I said, *snork*)

He Really Wanted A Chicken Patty

UPDATE for anyone keeping track of SAM’S EXPERIMENTAL POTTY MOUTH PHASE, which I don’t see ending anytime soon:

Sam (suppressing laughter, frowning dramatically for emphasis, and checking my face for a reaction): I hate spaghetti. It makes me angry and pissed.

Me (also suppressing laughter): I’m sorry spaghetti has such a negative impact on your mood, Sam.

Sam: Yeah. It stinks and sucks.

Me: Get over it, bud.