Irish Beef Stew

beef stew blog hero

March 17th is right around the corner!   Time to celebrate everything Irish!

I love that this is a holiday that it seems everyone enjoys.  You don’t have to be Irish, or even married into an Irish family in order to partake in the festivities from the parades to the stout beers.

My mother, although not Irish, always made the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner every St. Patrick’s Day.  I always looked forward to that night! But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve met so many people who just don’t appreciate that meal.  And so, I thought I’d put together another Irish favorite of mine to share… Irish Beef Stew. What makes it Irish, you might ask? I truly don’t know. But I will tell you this… my husbands family is Irish, my best friend while growing up is Irish and a slew of other people with whom I am close with all claim this is the true Irish Beef Stew. Who am I to argue?  I don’t ask questions, I just enjoy it! The rich, smooth gravy; the tenderness of the beef; the bountiful vegetables all come together and just melt in your mouth!  Absolutely delicious!  It’s the perfect cold, rainy night (that is typical of March for my northern friends) dinner.  Talk about comfort food! And if you get a chance, check out my Irish Soda Bread Scones Recipe (on Pinterest)… they’re the perfect accompaniment to this meal!

It’s important to sear the beef first.  You don’t want it cooked “through” – just browned.

Beef Stew beef

For this batch, I didn’t add potatoes.  Instead I made a beautiful Irish Potato Pie to serve as the side dish.   If you feel you don’t have time to make both recipes, you can add 2 large diced potatoes when you add the broth in this dish.

Beef Stew Vegs

If you’re anything like me, you won’t just make this stew on St. Patrick’s Day… you’ll want to make it all winter long!  Yes, it’s that good!  Try it and tell me what you think!

IRISH BEEF STEW
4 TBS olive oil
3 pounds Beef Chuck – cut into stew size pieces
Salt &  Pepper
5 Carrots – diced (or 1 small bag of baby carrots)
5 Celery stalks – diced
1 Yellow Onion – diced
2 TBS Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Cups Robust Red Wine
1 Quart Beef Stock
1 TBS dried Thyme
ROUX:
4 TBS Butter
1/2 Cup Flour
Heat 2 TBS oil in large pot.  Add Beef and Salt & Pepper. Sear until all sides of beef cubes are browned.  Remove the beef from pan. Add 2 more TBS oil and the vegetables. Stir and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Move the vegetables to one side of the pan, add the tomato paste and cook for about 1 full minute.  Stir vegetables into the paste.  Add the wine and stock.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the beef back into the pot and sprinkle with thyme.  Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to simmer and keep covered for 2 hours.  (No need to lift the cover and stir). When the stew is done, keep it on a low flame and make the Roux in a small saucepan: melt the butter and whisk the flour in – making a thin paste.  Add the roux into the stew and stir constantly until well incorporated and fully thickened.  Remove from heat and keep uncovered for 5 minutes.  Serve with chopped Chives or Parsley sprinkled on top.

Serves 4

Beef Stew Hero 3

Yogurt Lemon Dip

yogurt lemon dip

If you’re like most, you tend to make the same things for dinner over and over again. Whether it be because you’re pressed for time and you know exactly what you can whip up in 15 minutes or you try to make your fussy eater happy while everyone else at the dinner table groans because this is the third night this week you’ve grilled chicken.

I came up with this a few weeks ago and it has become a “regular” at my dinner table.  It doesn’t matter if I’m grilling chicken or shrimp.  It goes with so many different entree’s… for instance, lamb burgers!  And if you’re not adventurous on a weeknight, try this dip spread on warm naan and baked turkey meatballs!  I’ve even gone as far as munching on gluten free, brown rice crackers with this dip while preparing dinner!  I can’t get enough of it!  The lemony-garlic combo is perfection!  (That is, if you like lemon and garlic) 🙂

Try it next time you want to liven up that grilled chicken.  Let me know what you think!  Enjoy!!

Yogurt Lemon Dip

1 container plain Greek Yogurt

Zest from 1/2 Lemon

1 Garlic Clove – minced

1 handful fresh Flat Leaf Parsley – chopped

Salt & Pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1/2 hour for flavors to meld.  Keeps in refrigerator 5 days.

Spicy Chicken w/ Arugula Salad

spicy chicken hero

It’s time to spice things up in the kitchen on these cold February nights!

If you’re like me, you crave comfort foods during winter months.  Even though I live in the south, the nights get cool (if not cold) and it’s dark by 6:15PM every evening.  We can easily get stuck in the mindset when we hear “comfort food” we tend to think it equals “A LOT of time in the kitchen”.   Therefore, we may not even want to attempt anything “comforting”; but this recipe is different! The warm, smokey spices bring just enough heat and the sauce just enough comfort!  I added a quick Arugula Salad (got this tip from my sister.  Thanks Christina!!)…  just toss a bag of baby arugula with store bought “greek salad” (found in the deli section usually) and sprinkle with pink himalayan sea salt. Viola! Done!  (Honestly, I could make a meal out of that alone!!)

spicy chicken skillet

What I love most about this sauce… it literally thickens in about 2 minutes!  No standing idly by the stove, constantly stirring.  Its quick and delicious!  What more can we want during the week??!!

SPICY CHICKEN

3 Chicken Breasts

Salt & Pepper

3 cloves Garlic – minced

2 quick dashes of Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika

1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 TBS Butter

2 TBS Olive Oil

1/4 Cup 1/ & 1/2

1/4 Cup Cream Cheese

Make a “paste” using the garlic, cayenne, paprika and mustard.  Salt & pepper the chicken breasts.  Rub the chicken pieces (both sides) with the paste.  Heat a skillet on medium heat – warm the oil and butter and place the chicken so as not touching each other.  Cover 3/4 of the pan and let the chicken brown & simmer about 15 minutes (depending upon thickness) and turn.  Recover 3/4 of the top and continue cooking until cooked through (an additional 10 – 15 minutes – again, depending upon thickness).  Transfer chicken to plate.  Whisk in 1/2 & 1/2 and cream cheese until well blended; add the chicken back to the skillet and let simmer on low heat in sauce for about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with fresh flat leaf parsley and serve with sauce either on the side or drizzled over the chicken.   Serves 4

** If this is too spicy for you or your loved ones, you can serve plain greek yogurt on the side to cool things down a bit.

spicy chicken plated

Let me know if you decide to make this… and what you think!  I’d love to hear your responses!!  Enjoy!!

Portuguese Peasant Soup

SAM_0089

Homemade soup is the perfect comfort food… but when it’s your grandmother’s recipe the word “comfort” is brought to a whole other level;  childhood memories are thought of fondly, people from your past are missed greatly and the charm of remembering beautiful details are priceless.

As I’m writing this post I can almost hear my grandmother in her thick portuguese accent saying “Oh no! Not that recipe! It’s a soup for when produce and meat are slim, when things are tight. Not a soup for company!”  But I disagree… It’s the perfect soup on a winter day, either with just family or when neighbors stop by.  Soups don’t have to be exquisite to be delicious; they sometimes just have to be what you have on hand and made with love and the yumminess just follows.

As I prepared this meal , my mind would occassionally wander to the “old days” – the days when my cousins and I would run around my grandmothers kitchen as she stood at the stove cooking for her family; the laughter that filled her house on Sunday afternoons when we were all together; the smell of chorizo being cooked in almost every meal…  some of these memories made me laugh and others brought tears to my eyes knowing how blessed I’ve been to be surrounded by great love that brought about great food.  I fully believe I am the cook and the foodie that I am because of my beautiful grandmother…

PORTUGUESE PEASANT SOUP

1/2 yellow onion – chopped

2 TBS olive oil

salt & pepper

1 full link Chorizo sausage (pork-garlic sausage) – sliced thinly

2 russet potatoes – cut into bite sized pieces

2 cups string beans – trimmed and cut in half

handful of grape tomatoes – cut in half

1/2 bunch Kale – washed, trimmed and ripped into bite sized pieces

6 cups stock (chicken, bone or vegetable)

In soup pot, heat oil and saute onions with salt pepper on low heat until softened (about 10 – 15 mintues)  Add chorizo and stir – let “cook” for 5 minutes while stirring occassionally.  Add the potatoes, string beans and tomatoes. Stir.  Add broth and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.  Lower heat to simmer – cover pot halfway (to vent) for about 30 minutes.  Remove cover and pierce some of the potatoes to see if they are softened.  If they need to be cooked more, raise the heat to medium and stir every once in awhile until soft.  Add the kale and stir until wilted.   Serve with hearty bread (if you can find Portuguese Bread or Rolls, even better!) and a quick salad of Arugula sprinkled with fresh lemon juice and drizzled with olive oil.  Serves 6