Beef Stoop (A Recipe for a Sort of Soup, Sort of Stew)

It’s not quite a stew and not exactly a soup…it’s Beef Stoop!

This is my very own throw-it-together recipe, named by my 2-year-old son (he came up with the name more than a month ago, and the recipe followed). I whipped this up this week and didn’t want to forget the recipe. Then I figured others might like it, so why not post it to the blog! Feel free to share and re-post liberally, but please do link back here and give me credit for the recipe. And if you make it, comment and let me know how you like it!

This will be technically “done” after an hour or so of simmering, but I do think it benefits from several hours of cooking.

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds lean stew beef, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 large onions, chopped

1-2 T coconut oil

6 small carrots (or 3 large)

4 stalks celery

6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 quart organic beef broth

1 quart organic low sodium chicken broth

1 T sea salt

fresh ground pepper to taste

4 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves, washed and chopped (this is just what I happened to have going bad in my fridge; you could certainly sub out any number of other spices, like sage or maybe basil or oregano or thyme or marjoram, or leave this out entirely)

1 pound frozen organic green beans

1. In a 3-quart or larger pot (one with a cover), heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add beef and sere on all sides. Add chopped onions and cook until translucent.

2. Add carrots, celery, garlic, broth, salt, pepper, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 4 hours or so.

3. Add frozen green beans, return to a boil over medium heat, then simmer, covered, over low heat for an additional 1-2 hours.

I was very pleased with how this stoop turned out. The broth was rich and flavorful, the meat and vegetables tender. The whole family devoured it with gusto. And it’s relatively inexpensive! I might try it in the slow cooker next time.

Search my “recipe” category for many, many other of my favorite recipes (both mine and from other sources)!

You Know You’re a Crunchy Mama When…

…you’re grooving to the celtic music hour on the radio while making a homemade gluten-free apple pie (out of local apples, of course).

(Actually, I’m not sure if this is “crunchy” or not. But I thought is was oddly indicative of some specific type of mama, so I figured I’d post it. I had to take a breather anyway; Celtic Sojourn cut out in the middle of a real fiddle jam, and I was feeling kind of irate.)

For more in this series, select the “You Know You’re a Crunchy Mama…” category from the drop-down to the right.

Kitchenette Dinners, or Hotel Home-Cooking

As I’ve mentioned, we’re still living in a hotel. It’s a nice extended-stay type hotel with a little kitchenette and reliable wifi, but it’s been almost a month since we lived in a house, and I’m kind of missing some things.

Like my kitchen.

Every morning the hotel serves breakfast downstairs, and Monday through Thursday evenings, they serve a “light dinner.” Tonight was meatloaf and mashed potatoes; I’m not sure how that qualifies as “light,” but it’s the hotel’s descriptor, not mine.

Because I don’t eat gluten or dairy or undercooked eggs, there’s not much on offer for me at these meals. I’ll attend dinner when they have their “barbecue” theme and serve hamburgers, and I get their decaf from downstairs every morning, but mostly I eat my meals in the room. When someone offers me free food, I feel fairly neutral about it. It’s there whether I eat it or not, so if I don’t want it, why would I eat it?

My husband does not share this opinion about free food. When my husband is offered free food, he sees it as a challenge. I try to explain that they make more than they need and it’s not “wasting” if he doesn’t gorge himself, but he doesn’t seem to see my logic. To him, the more he eats, the more money he saves. To me, the more eggs and sausage and home fries he chows down on, the more likely we’re going to have to pay for some kind of heart procedure down the line a few years.

We are, however, both putting on weight living here. His is because of the free food. Mine is because the one place I’ve found to buy food is Trader Joe’s, and living in a hotel room is the perfect excuse to buy convenience foods that I otherwise never let myself buy. Beef tamales? Yes, please! Chocolate-covered frozen banana slices? Better get two boxes! A hummus quartet? Heck, I could live on nothing but hummus and those tiny rice crackers. And don’t even mention the wines.

I don’t think I’m eating too poorly. I’m just driving more and eating more and visiting the gym never (they’ve got a fitness room here but I find it excruciatingly boring to jog on the treadmill while watching at full volume a documentary about the Loch Ness Monster). The kitchenette is better than nothing, but it’s fairly rudimentary compared to my kitchen at home. The kitchenette has three not-so-sharp knives, one teeny cutting board, and one small colander. This setup doesn’t lend itself well to the rather complex meals I’m used to preparing.

So, what exactly am I cooking for dinner for myself?

Here’s one example:

This is the basic gmish.

When they sampled  it at the store, they used the Trader Joe’s brand Soyaki sauce. But that’s got wheat in it, so I passed on that and created my own. It’s Trader Joe’s pre-cooked frozen chicken breast strips, their canned pineapple chunks (with juice), and a sauce made of wheat-free tamari, canned minced garlic, fresh ginger, and a touch of honey. I mixed the sauce while thawing the chicken, then tossed it all together.

I was going to serve it over rice, but I forgot to cook the rice. So these are the ways I served it, one night and then the next night:

Over salad (lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper)

 

 

Surrounded by steamed broccoli (TJ’s ready-cut organic broccoli steamed in the microwave).

It’s pretty good stuff. But I get tired of pineapple pretty quickly. I bought more of the chicken strips, but I think I’m just going put them on salad and call it a day. Or I guess I could dip them in hummus.

What $5 wine would pair with chicken strips dipped in hummus with chocolate-covered frozen bananas for dessert?

Super-Secret Vegetarian Lasagna. Part Two: Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free

This one has the approval of vegans and dairy-eaters alike, but if you eat gluten and dairy (and love lots of cheese), also check out my Super-Secret Vegetarian Lasagna!

I have been trying since 2004 to make a yummy vegan lasagna. Back when I could still eat dairy, I would top the ones that weren’t yummy with a thick layer of melted cheese and that would make them palatable. Now that I can tolerate neither gluten nor dairy, the stakes are higher.

This weekend, however, I seem to have broken the code. This lasagna had me going back for seconds (and thirds, if truth be told). For the first time ever I didn’t spend my meal wishing I was eating the gooey cheesy lasagna on my husband’s plate rather than my own.

It was a red-letter day. And I got to serve yummy lasagna to the vegan friend who was over, which made me quite proud!

CJ’s Kick-Butt GF Vegan Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 batch of sauce (see Saturday’s post for the sauce recipe)

1 pound gluten-free lasagna noodles (uncooked)

1 package extra-firm tofu

1 bunch spinach (washed very well)

1 bunch basil (washed well as well)

1 T olive oil

1 yellow summer squash, sliced into half-moons

1/2-pound cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 generous dash each, oregano and garlic powder

1 package mozzarella-style vegan cheese (Daiya is gluten-free and not awful, but it seems like everyone’s got their favorite brand. Use what you like.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the basil and spinach into thin ribbons and combine in a large bowl. In a food processor, process the tofu until it’s smooth and creamy, like ricotta cheese, about 30 seconds. Spoon tofu into the basil and spinach mixture and stir until incorporated evenly.

Spinach/basil/tofu mixture

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced squash and mushrooms along with the oregano and garlic and saute until the mushrooms have released their juices and the squash is just softened.

mushroom/squash/garlic/oregano mixture

Now you’re ready to assemble your lasagna.

Put a layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.

Layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan.

Getting artsy with my layering.

Put a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles on top, using broken pieces to fill in the space at the end of the pan, if necessary. Spread half of the spinach/tofu mixture on top of the noodles and top that with half of the mushroom/squash mixture. Add another layer of noodles and cover the noodles with a generous layer of sauce. Add remaining spinach mixture and then mushroom mixture, and then cover with another layer of noodles. Cover the top layer of noodles with a generous portion of sauce and sprinkle with vegan cheese.

Cover the lot with a layer of foil and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and vegan cheese is melted.

Ready for the oven! (once I put the foil on)

Garlic Roasted Green Garbanzo Beans, Non-Crispy Version

I made the non-crispy green garbanzo beans Wednesday. My friend Timbra tried them, and they got her seal of approval. My family all loved them, too. The baby signed and said, “Mo! Mo! Mo!” almost as soon as he put a bean in his mouth. Of course, he also eats cat food, so you might want to take Timbra’s word for it rather than his. If she eats cat food, it’s news to me.

These are more of an “eat with a spoon” dish than a finger-food because they’re a little greasy. I’m thinking you can use much less oil than the recipe calls for (I decreased it myself from the original, but I think you could decrease it to 1/2 cup or less and have it be fine).

This recipe is based on the Roasted Garbanzo Beans and Garlic with Swiss Chard Recipe at Epicurious.com

I didn’t make the swiss chard part, but I’m betting it’s great, too. Click the link above for the original recipe, including the swiss chard part.

Garlic Roasted Green Garbanzo Beans, Non-Crispy

3 c frozen green garbanzo beans

10 garlic cloves, peeled

2 large shallots (the original recipe didn’t specify what exactly to do with these. I used 1 mondo one and peeled it and halved it before adding it to the beans)

3 small bay leaves

1 t fennel seeds (For some mysterious reason (perhaps because it seemed like a good price to buy them in bulk), I bought a pound of these about two and a half years ago. I’m glad to have another recipe to use them in.)

salt and ground pepper

1/2 to 1 c extra-virgin olive oil (I used 1 cup, but I’m thinking less might be better)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place everything but the oil in a casserole dish that’s about 8 inches square. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and pour the oil over the mixture and cover the casserole with a glass lid or aluminum foil. Cook until garlic is tender, about 45 minutes. Drain off excess oil and serve hot or at room temperature.

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Garlic Roasted Green Garbanzos, Crispy Version

A few months ago, we sampled some green garbanzo beans at Costco. My husband liked them, the baby liked them, so I bought a bag. It’s been sitting in our freezer since. We’ve made up one batch just plain, but I actually prefer the flavor of non-green garbanzos. So I set about finding a recipe to make them yummier to me.

A couple of years ago, I had some garlic roasted garbanzos at a friend’s house. I didn’t get the recipe from her, so I had to

Ready to go into the oven.

start with a Google search. I found two recipes to try, one for crispy garlic roasted garbanzos and one for not-crispy ones. I’ve made the crispy ones twice so far, and they’re a hit with the whole family (well, I’m not sure about my husband. The kids and I finish them before he has a chance to eat any).

The recipe:

Crispy Garlic Roasted Green Garbanzos

Modified from Ptitchef to use frozen green garbanzos

3 c frozen green garbanzos

1/4 c garbanzo/fava flour

1 t garlic powder (more to taste)

1/2 t salt

1/4 t ground pepper

Preheat over to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place frozen beans in a colander or fine mesh strainer and run under warm water to thaw. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients thoroughly. Shake the excess water from the beans and pour into the dry ingredients. Toss to coat completely. Arrange coated garbanzos on prepared baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 25-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the beans are golden brown and crispy.

The finished beans

These are best enjoyed the same day as they’re baked. They don’t seem to retain their crispiness overnight.

Breakfast today: Teff!

What was that? I thought that said you were having ‘teff’ for breakfast.

Yes, you read that right. Teff.

That’s not really a word. You just made that up.

Not only is it a word, it’s an “ancient grain of Ethiopia.” It’s the smallest grain in the world (about the size of a poppy seed) and it’s also gluten-free. It’s high in iron and protein and fiber and yumminess. It comes in ivory or brown. The brown is darker in color (as you might have guessed) and has a slightly stronger flavor than the ivory.

What does it taste like?

I think it tastes kind of nutty. My daughter likes hers with just salt in it. My son and I like ours with frozen or dried fruit. Today I had frozen blueberries and a touch of maple syrup in ivory teff. It’s also good with chopped dates and walnuts, especially the stronger-tasting brown variety.

Where on earth do you buy teff?

I’ve found it at Whole Foods, but since it’s become a staple for us, I now buy it in bulk through Azure Standard. You can also buy it online.

OK, then, how do I make teff?

Teff is totally easy to prepare. It’s a 1-to-3 teff-to-water ratio. So, to make three servings, boil 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of teff and stir. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. The teff at the bottom of the pot will thicken first, so be sure to bring that up when you’re stirring.

Breakfast for Dinner

We waited all day for the snow to start.

I don’t know why, but something about waiting and waiting for snow made the day just drag on and on. That and the even-more-futile-than-usual task of trying to clean up the house. Entropy just got the better of us. I gave in, quit trying to clean, and helped my daughter cook up some pink play dough.

My daughter kneading pink homemade play dough.

We rallied in the evening, though. It helped that my husband brought home three bars of Chocolove Almonds and Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate (Whole Foods got me hooked on it and then didn’t carry it for weeks). One bar (3 servings my foot) gave me enough energy to do dishes and make breakfast for dinner while my husband and the kids were upstairs watching Curious George. It was the first time I’d made either of the recipes I used (both from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair), and they turned out to be the perfect thing for dinner tonight. Nothing like leafy greens to give a mommy back her energy.

Breakfast for Dinner: Green Eggs (No Ham) and Healthy Home Fries from Feeding the Whole Family

One was Green Eggs (No Ham). I cooked the eggs a little more than the recipe called for (I like well-cooked eggs. When I get eggs that are the least bit runny, I have the same reaction Napoleon Dynamite did when he tried the egg-laden orange juice at the chicken farm). What was nice, though, was that the addition of the little bit of rice milk in the eggs when I whisked them up along with the moisture of the spinach at the end of the cooking process kept the eggs moist and fluffy even though I browned them like I always do. The kids even liked them. My daughter said, “Mmm! Spinach! My favorite!” I’m guessing you could substitute chard leaves if spinach is not your favorite.

The other recipe was Healthy Home Fries. I used russets rather than red potatoes because that’s what I had on hand. It was a simple but very satisfying accompaniment to the eggs. I ate them with ketchup.

I’m still thinking about decluttering and making plans for next month’s resolutions (I’m planning to take some kind of class as part of January’s “Explore” theme, but I can’t decide what to take), but I’m trying to give myself a break from all the decluttering talk.

So, have yourself some yummy breakfast for dinner (or breakfast for breakfast). You’ll need your strength to tackle all of the post-holiday decluttering and re-stashing of decorations. Unless, of course, you celebrate holidays on the Orthodox Christian calendar, in which case you still have another week to go, and you’ll probably need your strength to get through the run-up to all of the celebrations to come, but you won’t be able to eat the eggs because you’re fasting. If this is your situation (or if you’re vegan full-time), Cynthia Lair’s book has a recipe for Tofu Vegetable Breakfast Burritos you might like to try. Have I mentioned this is my favorite cookbook?

Green Eggs (No Ham)

reprinted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008) www.cookusinterruptus.com

Prep time: 10 minutes

Makes 2-3 servings

4 eggs

2 T water or milk

1/2 t sea salt

1 T butter (I used olive oil)

1 c baby spinach leaves (I used ~1.5 cups cut-up grown-up spinach leaves)

1/4 grated cheese, optional (my family made these into burritos with cheese, but I didn’t cook it in)

Whisk together the eggs, water, and salt in a bowl. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the butter; when it melts, add the eggs.

Using a heatproof rubber scraper, gently stir the eggs as they cook, lifting the curds from the bottom of the pan. When the eggs are nearly cooked, add the spinach and the cheese, if desired. Cover briefly (less than 1 minute) to wilt the spinach.

Remove from the pan when the eggs appear light and fluffy, but still shiny and wet (I think I’ve already made it clear that mine looked dry and lightly browned when I removed them from the pan). Serve immediately.

Healthy Home Fries

reprinted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008) www.cookusinterruptus.com

Prep time: 25 to 30 minutes

Makes 4 servings

6 red potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, cut into half-moons

1/2 t sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Place potatoes in a steamer basket and steam 7 to 10 minutes until tender.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté until soft. Add steamed potatoes, salt, and pepper. Flip potatoes occasionally until browned on both sides. Serve warm. (My family added them to their burritos with the green eggs and cheese. I ate them with ketchup.)

Cinnamon Rolls and Ugly Eggs: My Morning in Pictures

My husband took the kids to the playground and then out to lunch in advance of the snow storm this afternoon. I dedicated my alone time to preparing and eating food and getting dough on the camera.

First, I made Ugly Eggs. My preferred breakfast is one that I can make with whatever I happen to have in the house. Ugly Eggs fits this definition well because you can put pretty much anything in it. I’ve used peppers (both sweet and hot), mushrooms, asparagus, beans, potatoes, kielbasa, breakfast sausage, pepperoni, chopped turkey lunchmeat (not all at the same time).

If you, too, want to make Ugly Eggs, saute some veggies and meat together in a skillet. For this morning’s Ugly Eggs, I used 1/2 bell pepper, 1/2 small onion, and some chopped up leftover ham. While the veggies and meat are cooking, whisk up three eggs with some salt and pepper. When the stuff in the pan has begun to brown, pour in the eggs. Keep agitating with the spatula until they’re done to your liking (I like my eggs slightly browned, but I seem to be in the minority). Spoon into a bowl and eat with a fork (if you’re me) or a big spoon (if you’re my husband). If you’re neither me nor my husband, I suppose you can make up your own mind about what sort of utensil to use.

Some people put cheese on top. I do not.

Inspired by the decadence of my Ugly Eggs, I decided to make GF/CF cinnamon rolls. You can find the recipe I used here: Living Without – Cinnamon Rolls – Recipes Article. I didn’t have sweet rice flour so I used millet flour. I think next time I make these, I’ll try using the King Arthur multi-purpose GF flour. I ground my rice flour myself, but it wasn’t quite as fine as I would have liked. It didn’t stop me from devouring half of the cinnamon rolls within a couple of minutes of taking them out of the oven, though.

And now, the visual record of my food adventure this morning (as I try out the slideshow function on WordPress):

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Oh, (Vegan) Fudge!

 

What do you mean, you thought it made two pounds? Isn't this two pounds of fudge?

This is a recipe entitled “Old Fashioned Vegan Fudge” from vegweb.com. While I don’t think there’s anything old fashioned about soy creamer, this is yummy vegan fudge. I made it and I ate (most of) it. I recommend having someone in mind with whom to share this fudge before you make it. Two pounds is a lot of fudge.

 

Old Fashioned Vegan Fudge

(reprinted and very slightly modified from Christine P’s recipe on http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=25962.0)

Makes 2 pounds.

Preparation time: 10 minutes and 1 hour+ cooling time.

Ingredients

5/6 c soy creamer (I used original Silk creamer)

2 1/4 c sugar

1/4 c vegan butter (I used half a stick of Earth Balance buttery sticks)

18 ounces vegan chocolate chips (I used a bag and change of semi-sweet chips and then an ounce of Ghirardelli bittersweet baking chocolate)

1 t vanilla

1 c chopped walnuts, if desired (I desired them but my daughter didn’t, so I didn’t use them)

Prepare an 8×8 pan by either greasing it or lining it with foil or parchment paper.

In a heavy-bottomed pan, combine cream and sugar. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil then lower heat to medium and continue boiling and stirring for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in butter and chocolate. Keep stirring until satiny (or until your arm gets too tired, which is how long I stirred it). Add vanilla and nuts, if using. Immediately pour into prepared pan. Cool completely at room temperature before cutting.

A note about stirring the fudge: Some people warn against stirring fudge and toffee while they’re cooking. In my experience, the key is to not stir too vigorously. You’re just trying to keep the bottom from scorching. If you stir too vigorously, something happens that assume can be explained by physics or chemistry that causes the sugar and fat to separate out. Just stir gently and no too fast and you should be fine.