Leaving the Food Rut Behind

citrus is a great acid that adds freshness

During the holidays I spent some of my client-free time cooking the wonderful dishes that brought back childhood memories, but also the dishes we’ve come to love through the years that are now tradition at our table.

Then the holiday season ended, the new year began, and 2019 work goals kicked in, which means less time to cook. By the end of the first week of January I was busy, had little to no time for the kitchen, and we were quickly entering into the food rut we were in last fall. I knew there was no way we could choke down another piece of chicken with the same old stand-by sides. I needed help, and the sooner the better.

That’s when I came across a post by Tieghan Gerard of “Half-Baked Harvest“, she shared “The 25 Most Popular Recipes of 2018“. I clicked through and started looking at the variety of dishes, and how delicious they seemed and that’s when I decided they were the recipes that would rescue us from our food rut!

I printed several and chose to start with “One Skillet Lemon Butter Chicken and Orzo“. It was quick prep, easy to cook in one pot, and the final result was amazing. We loved how fresh it tasted with the herbs and lemon, plus the orzo was a nice change for us. Better yet there were yummy leftovers, which fits in with my cook once, eat twice belief. Leftovers make eating healthy at home a snap and takes the guess work out of what’s for dinner tomorrow night.

Thanks to Tieghan and her recipe I have found my kitchen inspiration. I look forward to sharing how the other recipes are, and to no boring dinners.


The Race for Milk & Bread!

c6aa10The weather forecast is predicting snow. I love being indoors during snow and being able to sit in front of a chilled window that fogs slightly with my breath as I look out. There is something about the glistening sea of white that has been physically altered for a frozen moment that I find beautiful.

While that is my idea of white during a snow there is that other white fury that takes place in the hours leading up to the frosty event. The buying of white milk and white bread.

Last night a friend posted a picture on her Instagram of the almost empty milk coolers at her local market. She’s glad to be lactose intolerant, and I’m glad I don’t drink milk. I understand the buying of bread, but I’m not really sure why people have an overwhelming need to buy milk before snow arrives. Wouldn’t water be better? Juice?

In our home we have our usual water, juice, and my husband’s Cabernet Sauvignon.  My only real worry is what if it snows so much I can’t get to Starbucks. Now THAT is something to worry about.

Enjoy the snow!… and milk.

Cooking · Family

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.