Sunday, March 27, 2005

Beef & Mushroom Stew

A classic recipe for beef and mushroom stew. On the table and flavorful within an hour, better still the next day. This is a great way to make a small amount of beef go further, with the addition of thick slices of firm, almost-meaty mushrooms.

Beef & Mushroom Stew ~ classic recipe, flavor-packed gravy, great texture ~ Weight Watchers PointsPlus 6 ~ KitchenParade.com

Butchers of the world, listen up, please! Meat is way too confusing!

It’s no wonder we cooks turn to what we know again and again. Think chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, baby back ribs, even hamburger. Now these are easy: they are easily recognized in the meat cooler and we know how to cook them.

But what’s all that other stuff?

I once condensed a primer on pork cuts – and still have no idea what to buy, especially since the names vary. Who would guess that a pork butt is just another Boston shoulder? Have you ever seen a hog with a butt for a shoulder? Not me.

And my eyes glaze over at the thought of cutting up a whole chicken, even though all “real” cooks say it’s easy and economical. The search engine Google cites 14,000 web pages that explain how. Do you suppose that’s more pages than people who actually do it?

But here’s one I’ve figured out – add it to the “easy” list. For pot roast or any stew where the meat cooks a long time, or a shorter time braised in liquid, look for beef labeled “chuck roast”.

Here’s a little memory tip, just think: “Let’s invite Chuck over for Sunday pot roast.”

Got it? Easy, right?! And Chuck will love-love-love the BEEF & MUSHROOM STEW.

ALANNA's TIPS Pre-packaged stew meat can come from any part of a cow and is often grained with fat that’s difficult to remove. For a leaner cut, purchase about a pound and a half of chuck roast. Allow an extra 15 minutes to cut the meat into chunks, discarding slices of fat and connective tissue. I like to "show and tell" ingredients so cut the mushrooms in thick, hearty and obvious slices. But if you want to make the mushrooms disappear, appearance-wise? Just chop them into fine bits. No one will know they're even there.

BEEF & MUSHROOM STEW

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 60 minutes
Makes 7 cups
  • 1 pound (450g) beef stew meat (or 1-1/2 pounds chuck roast, see TIP)
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 16 ounces (450g) sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon basil, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1 cup red wine (or additional broth)
  • 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper (especially) to taste

Heat a Dutch oven on medium high. As it heats, cut the meat into one-inch chunks, tossing them into the pot as they're prepped, stir occasionally. Prep the onions and garlic, add them to the pot as they're prepped, stir occasionally.

When meat is partially browned, add mushrooms and stir occasionally until mushrooms begin to soften. Sprinkle with top with flour, then stir in salt, pepper, basil and thyme until evenly distributed. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, about three minutes, until mixture thickens slightly. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Let simmer, uncovered, about 40 minutes or until meat is tender. The stew is especially good when made a day ahead of time and rewarmed.

Season to taste and serve over Delicious Microwave Sweet Potatoes (my favorite) or Rustic Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Carrots or even cornbread or Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per cup: 225 Calories; 12g Tot Fat; 12g Carb; 2g Fiber; 622mg Sodium; 43mg Cholesterol; 16g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 5 & PointsPlus 6

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

Good Cooks Know That Size Matters.


Beef & Mushroom Stew ~ classic recipe, flavor-packed gravy, great texture ~ Weight Watchers PointsPlus 6 ~ KitchenParade.com

The meat pieces will shrink so consider that when cutting the meat up since some people (Her?) like small, bite-size pieces for spooning and others (definitely Him) prefer big pieces that need a knife and fork.

Where's the Beef?!

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Slow-Cooked or Slow Cooker Pot Roast Spanish Stew with Roasted Pepper (Chilindron) Winter Stew
Brunswick Stew Emerald Isle Stew Beef Stew with Cranberries (Swedish Kalops)
~ more beef recipes ~

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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bacon & Egg Breakfast Bake

A make-ahead breakfast strata, with bacon 'n' eggs, plus healthy spinach too!

Bacon & Egg Breakfast Bake, make-ahead breakfast strata with bacon 'n' eggs plus healthy spinach ~ Weight Watchers PointsPlus 6 ~ KitchenParade.com

A friend has me thinking about breakfast. Not the hurry-up breakfasts that mark our every-day work and school lives but instead, the leisurely weekend breakfasts that open with mugs of steaming coffee and linger on around a big table.

The breakfasts that follow early church for the faithful and extra-long runs for the faithful exercisers.

The breakfasts where how many chairs are filled changes as the kids finish to play outside and grandfather excuses himself for an early Sunday afternoon nap.

The breakfasts that can be prepared with little fuss, like with this make-ahead BACON & EGG BREAKFAST BAKE, a sort of bacon ‘n’ eggs for a crowd.

BACON CHUNKS When bacon is on sale, buy a pound or two for “bacon chunks”, small pieces fried slowly, removing the fat but intensifying the flavor.

First, slice the entire slab crosswise in about one-inch pieces with a serrated knife. Cook in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring and separating. As the fat liquefies, spoon it into a covered glass container. When cooked crisp, transfer the bacon onto a double layer of paper towels over a colander. Replace the paper towels and drain again.

From a pound of bacon, expect about 1¼ cups of bacon chunks and ¾ cup of bacon grease. Refrigerate the chunks for a day or two or freeze for another time.

The bacon fat will keep a long time in the fridge (if it turns green or smells bad, it’s time to throw it out!) for frying eggs, greasing casserole dishes, or any time a smoky essence of bacon is called for.

BACON & EGG BREAKFAST BAKE

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 35 minutes
Serves 8
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
  • 5 slices whole-grain bread, crusts removed and discarded
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup bacon chunks, cooked from about 3 slices (see TIPS) – optional

THE NIGHT BEFORE Cook spinach according to directions, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, lightly butter a ten-inch quiche or pie pan. Tear each bread slice into four or five pieces; arrange in single layer in baking dish, leaving as few open spaces as possible.

Whisk eggs in medium bowl. Add about ½ cup milk, whisk again, then add remaining milk, ketchup, mace, salt and pepper. Whisk well.

Arrange cooked spinach evenly over bread. Carefully pour egg mixture over bread and spinach. (If necessary, use your fingers to press down a bit to avoid disturbing bread and spinach.) Sprinkle with cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

BAKE & SERVE The next morning, bake at 350F/175C for 35 minutes. Spread the top with bacon chunks during last five minutes of baking. Serve immediately.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving: 244 Calories; 12g Tot Fat; 20g Carb; 3g Fiber; 625mg Sodium; 150mg Cholesterol; 15g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 5 & PointsPlus 6 This recipe has been "Alanna-sized" with reductions in fat and portion size and increases in low- or no-calorie flavorings and nutrient-rich vegetables.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite make-ahead breakfast recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

More Easy Brunch Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole Breakfast Casserole with Sausage, Apples & Caramelized Onions Potato Blintzes

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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)


Friday, March 18, 2005

Skillet Cornbread

My first and still-most-favorite recipe for corn bread, an adaptable, forgiving recipe. Thanks to folding in whipped egg whites, it stays moist for a couple of days.

Skillet Cornbread, an adaptable, forgiving recipe, stays moist for days | Weight Watchers PointsPlus 5 | KitchenParade.com


COMPLIMENTS!
"Made this for my dad ... we nearly ate the whole pan." ~ Ali
"This recipe saved my [cornbread] reputation! It's very forgiving ..." ~ CJ


Lengthening days foretell the coming of spring. The sunny faces of the first daffodils remind how a nephew, at age four, took to calling these sunny harbingers of spring “laff-o-dils".

And just a few days ago, a seventy-degree Sunday brought forth Easter-festive dresses at church and then kids in shorts on bikes, dog walkers, strolling families, even a few winter-plump joggers.

But the forecast is for winter white: flurries for tonight and a possible "big winter event" within ten days.

So even in sunshine, today’s afternoon air holds an insinuating chill, one that triggers dusting off the woodpile’s last logs for supper by the fire.

What to cook? Like the fire, tonight’s meal must warm within and without.

Chili is an easy answer, beanless since that would require a trip to the grocery store, but redolent with roasted peppers from the freezer. And a simple cornbread deep from the recipe box, made just once more than ten years ago.

What a great re-discovery! SKILLET CORNBREAD calls for on-hand ingredients, makes up in a few minutes, tastes great and is healthful besides!

With fireside suppers like this, winter is welcome to keep its grip a few more weeks.

ALANNA's TIPS What a forgiving recipe I've found this to be, the one I turn to again and again, knowing it'll turn out so well, no matter what I do to it. I've substituted sour cream, Greek yogurt, keffir and even ricotta for the yogurt. It’s good to omit unnecessary sugar from recipes. The corn syrup here, however, is integral to the near-sweet, chewy crust but honey and agave are good substitutes, producing wonderful results. My notes say that stone-ground cornmeal is important but honestly, I haven't found it necessary for the last two batches. While stone-ground cornmeal is whole-grain, plain yellow cornmeal makes one very good cornbread. For a little bit of heat to complement the corn's natural sweetness, stir in a small can of green chile peppers. I've also started to put the ungreased cast-iron skillet into the oven as it preheats and while I mix the cornbread batter. When it's plenty hot, I grease the pan (carefully since it's hot) and pour in the batter. This creates an especially crispy crust. Unlike many cornbreads, this batch tastes nearly as moist and flavorful the second day as the first – if there are leftovers, that is!

SKILLET CORNBREAD

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 35 minutes
Makes 8 generous wedges
  • 1-1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 5 tablespoons non-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1-1/3 cups yellow cornmeal either stoneground or not
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt or 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 large egg whites

Grease a nine-inch cast iron skillet with butter or bacon fat. Place skillet in the oven while the oven heats to 450F/230C.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, milk, yogurt and corn syrup. Stir in cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold whites gently into corn mixture.

Pour batter into hot skillet and gently distribute evenly. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden.

EGG WHITE TIPS for NEW COOKS: The trick to beating egg whites is to prevent fat, including the yolks’ fat, from touching the whites. Make sure the mixing bowl and beaters are clean. A glass or metal bowl is better than plastic. You may use a metal whisk rather than an electric mixer but the beating will take longer – your wrist may suffer! Crack one egg and carefully drop its white into one small dish, its yolk into another. (If the yolk breaks, reserve it for an omelet then proceed with another egg and a clean small dish.) Transfer the first white into the mixing bowl; this way, if the second yolk breaks, it won’t contaminate the first. Repeat with the second egg. Beat whites until peaks form and fall over like the tip of a soft-serve ice cream cone.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Slice: 185 Calories; 1g Tot Fat; 37g Carb; 3g Fiber; 604mg Sodium; 2mg Cholesterol; 6g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 3 & WW Points Plus 5. CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 1/2 a slice (3g protein).

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Have you re-discovered a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

More Cornbread Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Simple Cast Iron Southern Corn Bread Savory Cornbread Muffins Summer Corn Bread with Fresh Blueberries

~ Sweet Cornbread ~
~ Pumpkin Cornbread ~
~ Sweet Potato Cornbread ~
from A Veggie Venture, my food blog

Soup & Cornbread, Yes?

(click a photo for a recipe)
Chocolate Chili Salmon Chowder Sausage & Kale Split Pea Soup
~ more soup recipes ~

What a Big Winter Event in Spring Looks Like

My dog Lady surveying thick snow in driveway and street.

Hello? Is there anyone out there? That’s my dog Lady surveying the front yard and street here in St. Louis after nine inches of thunder snow in March 2008 when this 2005 column was first published online.


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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)