Cuban Beef Stew (Carne Guisado)

Most of the Fall colored leaves have fallen, temperatures are staying cooler, and Christmas is only 40 days away (yes, 40). I knew the request for Carne Guisado wasn’t far behind, and it came earlier today. My husband, Dean, is half Cuban; his mother, Blanca, is from a small village called Moron. She has been in the United States for many decades, but the family’s roots run deep, and their cuisine is a big part of the culture.

I love to cook, and learning to make my husband’s favorite dishes was seriously intimidating when I was a young bride. Now, twenty-two years later, I’ve edited, changed, and updated many of the recipes, and enjoy sharing the food with friends and family.

Here is my version of Cuban Beef Stew:

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more

1 large white onion, chopped

1 large green pepper, choppedDsc_0517

7 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds sirloin tip, cut into cubes

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 cup pinot noir

1 can tomato sauce, 15 ounces

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1/3 cup pimento stuffed Spanish green olives

1/4 cup golden raisins

2 bay leaves

1 cup water

4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

4 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks

Kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy large saute’ pan. Add onions, peppers, salt, pepper and cook until transparent. Do not let them brown. Add the minced garlic and saute’ for two more minutes.

While the vegetables cook spread the meat cubes out into a single layer and lightly salt and pepper, then dust with flour. Shake off any excess flour. Remove the vegetables from the pan and add 2 tablespoons olive oil into the pan. Place some of the seasoned meat cubes into the hot saute’ pan and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and repeat this step until all the meat is browned. Tip: it is important to do the meat in batches or it will not brown and an entire layer of flavor will be lost.

Dsc_0518Put the vegetables and meat back into the pan, add oregano, cumin and cook for two minutes. Add tomato sauce, wine, vinegar, olives, raisins and bay leaves. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the meat, add just enough water. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down to low. Allow to simmer for 1 hour. After an hour stir the stew, put the cover back on and simmer 30 minutes. Check the stew and make sure it isn’t getting too thick, if it is add a touch of water. Cook another 30 minutes.

Add the carrots and parsnips, cover the pan, and cook until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper if needed.

Notes: If carrots and parsnips aren’t your thing then use peeled potatoes cut into large chunks. I use a variety of vegetables in this stew, but the one I did today is our favorite. We eat it with white rice, and leftovers are super yummy.

Pumpkin Surprise

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and that means more than family, football, and turkey. It means pumpkin. Through the holidays we will be on pumpkin overload. Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin soup, pumpkin risotto, and of course pumpkin pie.

I don’t mind pouring all the love and time into a traditional pumpkin pie, but it really isn’t my favorite. My fave isn’t even a recipe that has been handed down, or even one that has to be put in the oven. It is a no-bake “Double Layer Pumpkin Pie”.

It has been lovingly renamed “Pumpkin Surprise”, because the whipped topping is on the bottom. I also think it has become my favorite, because it has started a tradition with my nieces. They love helping me make this quick and easy recipe. Plus, their giggles are priceless when they shout “surprise, it’s upside down!” when someone cuts into the pie.

INGREDIENTS

84 oz cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 1/2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

1 cup cold milk

2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix

1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of milk, and sugar until smooth. Gently stir in whipped topping. Spread into bottom of crust.

Pour 1 cup of milk into large bowl, and thoroughly mix in pudding mix, pumpkin, cinnamon. When thickened, spread over cream cheese layer.

Refrigerate 4 hours.

NOTE: Chilling the crust before adding the first layer and then again after the first layer helps the pie to set and will help avoid the layers mixing together.