Thursday, December 07, 2017

NeenaLoveCooks: Beef Stew In 90 Minutes or Less

I was at work utterly bored with building a database. As I looked out onto the beautiful view from my office, I couldn't help but notice the thick rain clouds that had gathered. Within minutes, the rain began to fall and I was immediately craving a nice hot bowl of beef stew and rice. Beef stew is definitely one of my comfort foods. My father makes really good stew and my mom did too. I carry the tradition on with my own cooking skills.

I don't normally follow a recipe. I "eyeball" everything and then taste my food often while I'm cooking. For the sake of this post here is a list of the ingredients I used:
-2.85 Pound Boneless Chuck Roast
-Water or Stock
-2 Pounds of Potatoes
-1 Pound of Carrots
-6 Celery Stalks
-1 Large Round Onion
-5 Cloves of Garlic
-6 Stems of Fresh Thyme
-1 small can of tomato paste
-2 TBSP All-Purpose Flour
-1 TBSP Vegetable Oil
-Salt and Pepper to taste

The great thing about stew is that you can mix up the quantity of the ingredients. Use what you have on hand. If you only have 1 pound of meat, adjust the other ingredients to your taste. I don't really like carrots so when I make stew for just me, I omit the carrots and increase the potatoes. I also LOVE garlic so I will use an entire head of the stuff instead of five cloves.

In the video, I go over the instructions on how I make beef stew. This is meant to be a quick stew. Normally, when I make stew it is an all day process. I cut everything in large chunks. In this recipe,  however, everything is cubed into smaller pieces so that it will cook quickly. This stew will be done in less than 90 minutes.

PREP:
-Cut beef into roughly 1/2 to 3/4" cubes and dust with 2 TBSP of flour and salt and pepper
-Peel and slice onions
-Peel and slice garlic
-Clean and slice celery into 1/2" slices, diagonal
-Clean and chop carrots into 1/4" slices, diagonal
-Clean and cut potatoes into the size of half a golf ball

COOK:
-Heat up a large pot with one tablespoon of vegetable oil
-Brown beef
-Add garlic and onions
-The juices from the beef, garlic, and onion should be thick. Add either stock or water to cover the meat.
-Let cook on med-high to high for 45 minutes.
-Add celery and carrots and cook on medium for 15 minutes.
-Add potatoes and cook on medium for 15 minutes.
-Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

And that's it -- you're done. You can do variations by adding ingredients that you like. For instance, I usually add a couple of jalapenos. That is always yummy but I know that the people I'm dining with this evening do not like a lot of spice. You can add green chile, which is another one of my favorite flavor profiles. It's really up to you. I have seen people add green beans. I have seen clams in the mix also. There is nothing you can do that would be wrong. Eat Up!

Friday, December 01, 2017

Hello December - Easy Holiday Wreath DIY

Since moving here to South Carolina, I have so much time on my hands. All my side hustles from my former life are UNKNOWN here in South Carolina and for right now, I need it to remain that way so I can concentrate on my writing. However, it is the holiday season and there's just something about Christmas that compels me to express my creativity.



Thanksgiving weekend, the girls and I did a lot of shopping/window shopping. One of our stops was at the craft store Michaels. I love that place. All the Christmas blooms were 50% off. I was attracted to this blush color and inspired by it. White, gold, and silver accented it beautifully. The girls decorated the mantle and prompted me to round out the decoration with a matching wreath.



When selecting your own things to use in a wreath, it should be things that inspire you. This particular wreath just happened to be flowers but you can use anything to make a wreath. You are only limited by your creativity. You can look online or even in the stores to see the kinds of wreaths that are available. I see wreaths covered with ornaments and ribbon and mesh. I have seen feathers and toys. Really, it's up to you and the theme you're going with. Here's a wreath that I saw at Michaels. This is a 12" wreath. With all the added fluff, it looks larger. If you look at the price tag, they are selling that thing for $69.99. Isn't that crazy? And you can look at the wreath and know that NO LOVE went into making that. I'm just pointing out the obvious.



As with any craft, it takes practice to get to a place where you're happy with your creation. That can only happen if you do it all the time. Practice. Practice. Practice. People think they're not creative but give them some time, beautiful materials to work with, a little shove in any direction and the results are fantastic. Don't forget some inspirational music... my inspirational music today was BEYONCE. To be more specific, Drunk In Love. The pulsating beat had me bobbing my head and singing as I made this wreath. Do what makes you happy and NEVER GIVE UP.

Happy Holidays, fam!